Grant Hill announced his retirement from the NBA on June 1, closing the book on a remarkable career nearly derailed by injuries. Following a 19-year professional run, Hill told USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt, “I just realized I didn’t want to play anymore.”
After winning two NCAA championships with Duke, Hill was drafted third overall by the Detroit Pistons in 1994, where he proceeded to set the league on fire. A deadeye midrange shooter and on-ball defender, the 6’8” small forward also facilitated his teammates’ offenses and disrupted passing lanes.
Hill signed with the Orlando Magic as an unrestricted free agent in 2000, and his career took a turn for the worse. A left ankle injury from the previous season never healed, leading to surgeries and a life-threatening infection. Hill made 47 game appearances through his first four years in Orlando, and early retirement was expected.
But Hill persevered, notching a heart-warming comeback campaign in 2004-05 (playing 67 games, averaging 35 minutes per game, scoring 19.7 points per game with 50.9% field goal accuracy), and found second life with the Phoenix Suns in 2007, where he teamed with Steve Nash and became a vital part of the playoff-bound organization.
Hill signed a two year, $4 millon contract with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2012 to play a reserve role (he logged 15 minutes and 3.2 points per game in 29 contests), so while he won’t finish his deal, there is nothing left to prove. The 40 year old will serve as an inspiring figure off the court for decades to come.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison / Wikimedia Commons