Kitchener's Jamal Murray helps carry team to NBA Western Conference Final
Jamal Murray, who is from Kitchener, had a 40-point night to help the Denver Nuggets move into the NBA's Western Conference Final.
The Nuggets defeated the heavily favoured LA Clippers in Game 7 to advance to the next round.
It's something Murray strived for since he was young, growing up in Kitchener.
Imad Qahwash remembered playing at the local community centre when Murray was only 10 years old.
"I just remember this gritty, driven, obsessed kid in the sixth grade," he said. "You could never kick him off the court. You would always see him over here shooting hoops."
Murray player two years at Grand River Collegiate. Students there today are motivated by the former Renegade.
"Now we get to look up to someone who went hard and now he's in the NBA," student Colton Eckert said.
Murray went on to play in a special basketball school in Orangeville.
"Every platform that you put him in, he's going to rise to the occasion," said Tariq Sbiet with the North Pole Hoops. "He's been doing that his whole career."
Murray's local fan base has also grown thanks to his work in the community. He's known for helping build local basketball courts and giving out backpacks for kids going back to school.
"This is a story of a family and a kid who's worked hard, who have supported each other and believed in each other," Kitchener Mayor Barry Vrbanovic said.
With the Toronto Raptors no longer in the playoffs, many Canadian fans are now getting behind Murray, and the underdog Denver Nuggets.
"Captain Canada for the Kitchener kid," Qahwash said. "I think now that the Raptors are eliminated, I think as a nation, we have to all get behind this kid."
Next up, the Nuggets tip off their series against the LA Lakers on Friday.