Carter, Vince 1977–

views updated May 09 2018

Vince Carter 1977

Professional basketball player

At a Glance


As one of the NBAs brightest young stars, Vince Carter has electrified the league. In only his second professional season, he led the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever playoff appearance. With his amazing dunks and stellar scoring touch, Carter is often mentioned as the heir apparent to Michael Jordan as the NBAs premier player.

Vincent Lamar Carter was born on January 26, 1977 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Although he excelled at basketball from an early age, his mother Michelle Robinson and his stepfather Harry made sure that he grew up as more than just an athlete. By the time he reached the seventh grade, Carter stood 58 and could already dunk a basketball, but he also played the baritone and the alto and tenor saxophone. He also wrote songs for the marching band and penned Mainland High Schools homecoming song. Carter even attended band camp, a fact that he proudly passed along to Sports Illustrateds Jon L. Wertheim: Guys hear that and make fun of me, but trying different things and doing what I like is more important than being popular. He also ran track and played volleyball. After leading his school as a drum major, for which he was also offered a college scholarship to Bethune-Cookman College, Carter led Mainland to the 1994-95 Florida Class 6 Achampionship. Carter left Mainland High School as one of the most highly recruited high school basketball players in the country. He accepted a scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina. Carter was not one of those rare talents who uses college as a stepping stone to the NBA, however. Because both of his parents were educators, he took his studies very seriously. Carters mother forced him to sign a contract stating that if he were to leave college early in pursuit of NBA glory, he would go back to school and graduate.

At the University of North Carolina, Carter was part of a star-studded cast which included Antawn Jamison, the man who would later be drafted one spot before him in the NBA draft. As many high school basketball phenoms have discovered at North Carolina, freshmen players must earn their way onto the starting rotation. Carter finished his freshman season with only a 7.5 points per game average. During his sophomore year, he doubled both his production and his playing time. Carter averaged 13 points per game, and led North Carolina to the Final Four before losing to the eventual national championsArizona. In his third year at North Carolina, he again led his team to the Final Four

At a Glance

Born Vincent Lamar Carter, January 26, 1977 in Daytona Beach, FL; son of Michelle Robinson (a teacher);Education: Attended the University of North Carolina.

Career: Starred in the band and on the basketball court at Mainland High School, 1991-95; attended the University of North Carolina, 1995-98; picked fifth overall in the NBAdraft and traded to the Toronto Raptors, 1998-; member of USA Basketballs Sydney Olympics team, 2000,

Awards: Second Team AP All-American, First Team All-ACC, 1997-98; NBA Rookie of the Year, 1998-99.

Member: Established the Embassy of Hope Foundation, 1998; named a Goodwill Ambassador by Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America, 1998.

Addresses: Home Daytona Beach, FL;Office The Toronto Raptors, 150 York Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5H 355.

and solidified his reputation as a complete playeran athlete who could also play defense, rebound, and hit key shots. After his third year at North Carolina, there was little doubt that Carter would leave school to pursue the riches of the NBA. He was named a second team All-American by the Associated Press, and was a first team All-ACC selection. Carter declared himself eligible for the NBA, but not before being reminded by his mother that he must complete his education. He returned to the university during the summer months, and continued his education.

In June of 1998, the Golden State Warriors selected Carter with the fifth pick of the NBA draft and then traded him to the Toronto Raptors for Antawn Jamison, his former North Carolina teammate. Carter immediately energized the woeful Raptors franchise, and led the team to challenge for its first playoff berth. By appearing nightly on ESPN and other sports programs, he began to attract an increasing number of Canadians to professional basketball. Sports stores sold out of Carters number 15 jersey almost immediately, and his rookie card was pedaled for as much as ten dollars. Carter told Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated that he was surprised by his impact on the city and the league: I didnt plan for it to be this way. My goal was to fit in, gradually work my way to being an impact player. My whole scheme fell through from Day One Carter ended the strike-shortened 1998-99 season by winning the NBAs Schick Rookie of the Year Award, and by becoming a unanimous selection to the leagues All-Rookie team. During his rookie season in the NBA, Carter led the Raptors in blocked shots, field-goal percentage, and scoring.

Carter began his second year as the heir apparent to retired NBA great Michael Jordan. He did little to quiet the speculation that he was ready assume the mantle of NBA demi-god. Carters mother told Mike Wise of The New York Times that her son was accustomed to the being mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan: the Michael Jordan comparison is something hes been dealing with since high school. On one hand, its very flattering. You cant overlook the similarities. By the same token, it gets a little old, too. Vince gets tired of hearing it. Carter won the slam dunk contest during the All-Star game weekend, and the NBA seemed to officially designate him as league savior. His good looks and squeaky-clean reputation, coupled with the amazing moves and eye-popping dunks, put the leagues hype machine into high gear. The evidence of Carters popularity and importance to the NBA came one day after he won the slam dunk contest. NBC shifted the Toronto Raptors game into the national spotlight, and moved the originally scheduled New York Knicks game out of the main programming slot. Carter was featured in a pre-game introductory piece, interviewed at half-time, and again after the game. During the broadcast, his name was mentioned 165 times and his face was the subject of 105 close-ups. Carter also scored a Jordanesque 51 points during the game.

Despite his stellar season, Carter received some bad news just before his heroic All-Star weekend. He was omitted from the U.S. Olympic team when Ray Allen was chosen for the final roster spot. After all the adulation, the Olympic rebuff changed Carters attitude slightly. He told the Associated Press about being left off the team: It has helped me step up. I said, OK, you just have to show the world what you can do night in and night out. Although Carter was eventually added to the team after one of the original players on the roster suffered a knee injury, the supposed slight caused him to focus his energies more on winning than flashy, entertaining play. Carter led his team to the playoffs in 2000a first for the Toronto franchise. The young Raptors faced the New York Knicks in the first round. Toronto had beaten the Knicks three times during the regular season. However, the New Yorkers quickly disposed of the Raptors in a three-game sweep. Carter, who was shadowed throughout each game by defensive wizard Latrell Sprewell, was held to 15 of 50 field goal attempts through the three games of the series. Despite this disappointing end, Carter enjoyed a tremendous season. Teammate Antonio Davis summed up Carters responsibilities for Wise of The New York Times: Some of the time I hear him talking and some of the things he had to do after practice or something he had to before practice, its like wow. And you still made it to practice on time, you got your work in after practice? Thats tough, trying to lift your team and sell the league at the same time. Hes going to help the league by being himself. Hes doing a great job of it.


The New York Times, December 21, 1999; February 29, 2000.

Sports Illustrated, April 19, 1999; November 1, 1999.


Additional material for this essay was found on the worldwide web at; and

Michael J. Watkins

Carter, Vince

views updated May 08 2018

Vince Carter


American basketball player

One of the brightest young stars in professional basketball, Vince Carter has helped to popularize basketball in a country that long has focused the bulk of its sports interests on hockey during the fall and winter months. In only his second season with the Toronto Raptors, he led the young franchise to its first-ever appearance in the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs. Carter's explosive style of play and dazzling moves on the basketball court have won the hearts of Canadians and gained greater exposure for the Raptors. A member of the U.S. Olympic basketball team that won gold at Sydney, Australia, in 2000, Carter was a basketball star in high school and college, leading the University of North Carolina Tar Heels to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Tournament's Final Four twice during his years at Chapel Hill. Carter was selected fifth in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors but was traded immediately to the Raptors. In his first four seasons with the Raptors (through 2001-02), Carter averaged 24.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Born in Daytona Beach, Florida

He was born Vincent Lamar Carter in Daytona Beach, Florida, on January 26, 1977. The son of Vince and Michelle Carter, who divorced when Carter was seven years old, he showed an early interest and talent in both music and sports. Although he excelled at basketball as a boy, his mother and stepfather, Harry Robinson, both schoolteachers, endeavored to ensure that Carter had as well-rounded a background as possible, encouraging him to pursue his interest in music as well as sports. As a student at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Carter played alto, baritone, and tenor saxophone in the marching band and also led the band as drum major. A talented composer, Carter wrote the school's homecoming song. By the time he reached his junior year in high school, however, Carter found himself focusing more and more of his time and energy on basketball. He led the school's basketball team to the 1994-95 Florida Class 6A championship. In his senior year Carter turned down a music scholarship to nearby Bethune-Cookman College in favor of a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina.

After a slow start as a freshman, averaging only 7.5 points per game, Carter began to make a name for himself in Tar Heel basketball during his sophomore year, nearly doubling both his playing time and scoring average. At season's end, he led the Tar Heels squad to the NCAA Tournament's Final Four, where North Carolina lost to the eventual national champion, Arizona. Solidifying his growing reputation as an all-around player, Carter led the Tar Heels back to the NCAA Final Four during his junior year. After a brilliant season as a junior, he declared himself eligible for the NBA draft of 1998. Making good on a promise to his mother and stepfather that he would not abandon his goal of earning a college degree, Carter continued to pursue his studies during summer sessions and eventually received his bachelor's degree in 2001.

Picked Fifth Overall in NBA Draft

Carter was picked fifth overall in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft by California's Golden State Warriors and traded almost immediately to the Toronto Raptors for Antawn Jamison, his former teammate at North Carolina. Although his debut with the Raptors was delayed by a players' strike, his presence seemed to energize the young franchise, which for the first time made a serious challenge for a playoff berth. He also worked to promote not just his team but basketball in general with multiple appearances on ESPN and other sports programming. This was particularly apparent in Canada where interest in professional basketball-and ticket sales-jumped dramatically. Carter's rookie card sold for as much as $10, and sports stores found it almost impossible to keep Carter's number 15 jersey in stock. In an interview with Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated, Carter expressed surprise at his impact on the city of Toronto and the NBA. "I didn't plan for it to be this way. My goal was to fit in, gradually work my way to being an impact player. My whole scheme fell through from Day One."


1977Born in Daytona Beach, Florida, on January 26
1995-98Attends University of North Carolina
1998Picked by Golden State Warriors in first round of NBA draft
1998Traded by Warriors to Toronto Raptors
2001Earns bachelor's degree from University of North Carolina

During the 1999-2000 season, Carter's second season with the Raptors, he improved his scoring average to 25.7 points per game from 18.3 points per game in his rookie season. Thanks to his electrifying style of play and spectacular slam dunks, Carter found himself increasingly compared to then-retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan . Many touted Carter as the player most likely to succeed Jordan as the star of professional basketball. Although such comparisons were pleasing to Carter in some ways, they also created a sense of pressure he could have lived without. As his mother told Mike Wise of the New York Times, "the Michael Jordan comparison is something he's been dealing with since high school. On the one hand, it's very flattering. You can't overlook the similarities. By the same token, it gets a little old, too. Vince gets tired of hearing it."

Emerges into Ranks of NBA Stardom

Carter's emergence into the ranks of NBA stardom was signaled by a last-minute programming change made by NBC Sports one day after Carter won the slam dunk competition during the All-Star Game weekend of his second season. The network shifted a Raptors game into its main programming slot in place of a New York Knicks game originally scheduled to be broadcast. To further showcase Carter, the program featured a pregame introductory piece on Carter, as well as interviews at half time and after the game with the Raptors star. Rising to the occasion, Carter scored a spectacular 51 points during the game. This flattering programming change was followed by a bitter disappointment when Carter was passed over in the selection of players for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. Although he tried not to let his omission from the team bother him, it did cause Carter to focus more on winning play rather than flashy, grandstanding moves on the court. He told the Associated Press: "It has helped me step up. I said, 'OK, you just have to show the world what you can do night in and night out.'" Carter eventually was added to the Olympic squad when one of the original players selected suffered a knee injury.

With Carter focused more intensely on winning play, the Raptors in 2000 made it into the NBA playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Toronto faced off against the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. Although the Raptors had beaten the Knicks three times during the regular season, the New York team made short work of Toronto in the playoffs, sweeping the series in three games. Shadowed by the Knicks' Latrell Sprewell throughout the series, Carter was held to only 15 of 50 field goal attempts.

Joy Disappears from Carter's Game

One of the characteristics that had helped to endear Carter to Canadian basketball fans was the obvious joy he took in the game. Between the end of the Raptors' season in the playoffs and the start of the Olympics, some of that joy seemed to disappear. Contributory factors included a separation between his mother and stepfather, a criminal investigation into the activities of Carter's former agent, Tank Black, legal hassles over termination of a shoe contract, and being passed over in the selection process for the U.S. Olympic team. Added to the Olympic team as a substitute for an injured player, it was a radically different Carter who took the court in the Olympics. Gone was his trademark smile. In its place was a look of grim determination and even rage. But, if anything, this pent-up anger at a whole constellation of real and perceived indignities and injuries only sharpened Carter's play. He quickly emerged as the U.S. basketball team's dominant force, leading the squad in scoring. Finally, in the moments after the team seized gold, all the hurt and frustration of the recent past seemed, at least for the moment, to be shed.

Particularly hurtful to Carter were some of the comments made about him by teammate and distant cousin Tracy McGrady after leaving the Raptors for the Orlando Magic in August 2000. McGrady said publicly that he needed to needed to carve out a niche somewhere for himself, but his mother told the media that her son had grown tired of hearing about Carter constantly. Carter admitted later that McGrady's comments "bothered me for a long time. It was wild. My head was spinning so fast. I read [his mother's quotes]; then people said he was saying the same things on TV. I said, 'Fine. If that's how he feels, so be it.' I couldn't find enough guts to call him and say, 'What's going on?'"

Career Statistics

TOR: Toronto Raptors.

Ranks Fifth in Scoring during 2000-2001

During Carter's 2000-2001 season in the NBA, he averaged 27.6 points per game, ranking fifth in the NBA for scoring. He also ranked sixth in the league in three-point field goals. Despite his continued success on the basketball court, one of Carter's proudest moments in 2001 came in May when he received his bachelor's degree in African-American studies at the University of North Carolina. He hoped to continue his studies over the next few years to earn a master's degree in business administration or communications. Carter's scoring average slipped slightly during the season of 2001-02, falling to 24.7 points per game. He averaged 5.2 rebounds and 4 assists per game for the season and was selected to play in his third consecutive NBA All-Star Game.

One of Carter's proudest accomplishments off the court has been his Embassy of Hope Foundation, established in 1998 to help needy children and their families in his home state of Florida and adopted hometown of Toronto. The foundation's slogan"Believing in Your Dreams"represents Carter's personal approach to success and is intended to serve as inspiration to others that they too can work hard enough to make their dreams come true. For his work with the foundation and other humanitarian efforts, Carter in 2000 was named Child Advocate-of-the-Year by the Children's Home Society. Carter is also actively involved in "Vince's HOOP Group," a program to recognize student achievement in Canadian schools. He also participates in the NBA's Read to Achieve program.

Love of the Game

Carter's career has only just begun. Barring serious injury, he is likely to be playing pro ball a decade or so from now. Whether he ever becomes the NBA's next Michael Jordan, only time will tell. But there can be little doubt that Carter is likely to remain a dominant force in professional basketball for the foreseeable future. As for Carter himself, he seems prepared to face whatever comes his way. As he told Bill Harris of the Toronto Sun, "I'm ready to take on all challenges. I don't care what it is or what people have to say, bring it. You can say what you want, but I'm going to step in and represent who I am and what I can do."

Related Biography: Basketball Player Tracy McGrady

One of Carter's closest friends during his first two seasons in Toronto was his fellow Raptor and distant cousin Tracy McGrady Jr. Carter and McGrady lived in the same Toronto apartment building and spent much of their time off court in each other's company. Over time, however, the warm relationship between the two players chilled somewhat as Carter consistently outpaced McGrady's efforts on the court.

As Carter continued to occupy more and more of the spotlight in Toronto, McGrady began to yearn for some breathing space, hoping that he might develop better on his own. In August 2000 he left the Raptors and signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Orlando Magic. In announcing his decision to leave the Raptors, McGrady said he wanted to be able carve out his own space somewhere and he hoped that playing for the Magic would afford him that opportunity. McGrady's mother, however, said her son had grown tired of hearing about Carter all the time. Although Carter initially reacted angrily to McGrady's remarks, the two have since patched up their relationship to some degree and look forward to a continuing rivalry between their teams.

McGrady was born in Bartow, Florida, on May 24, 1979. Beginning at the age of five, he participated in a wide variety of sports but had focused largely on basketball by the time he entered high school. He left Auburndale (FL) High School to finish his senior year at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina, and entered the NBA draft immediately after high school. He was drafted in 1977 by the Raptors.


Address: c/o Toronto Raptors, 150 York St., Toronto, ON M5H 355, Canada. Online:



"Vince Carter." Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 26. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2000.

"Vince Carter." Newsmakers, Issue 4. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2001.


Harris, Bill. "Raptors Are Only as Good as Vince; Superstar Is in the Spotlight." Toronto Sun (October 1, 2001): 61.

Price, S. L. "Semi-Tough: The Raptors' Vince Carter Has Star Power to Burn, But Can He Stoke Up the Competitive Fire That Rages in the Game's Elite Players?" Sports Illustrated (January 29, 2001): 66.

Ulmer, Mike. "Vince Needs a Makeover; Carter Very Popular But He's Not That Cool." Toronto Sun (August 23, 2002): 94.


"#15, Vince Carter." (December 10, 2002).

"Tracy McGrady, Jr." Biography Resource Center Online. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2001.

"Vince Carter." Biography Resource Center Online. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2001.

"Vince Carter Biography." Vince Carter's Official Web Site. (December 13, 2002).

Sketch by Don Amerman

Awards and Accomplishments

1997-98Named to NCAA Tournament's All-East Regional Team
1997-98Named by Associated Press to Second Team All-American
1997-98Named to First Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference
1998-99Named to Schick NBA All-Rookie First Team
1999Named NBA Rookie of the Month in March and April
1999Named NBA Player of the Week, March 21 and November 21
1999Wins NBA Sportsmanship Award
2000Named Child Advocate-of-the-Year by Children's Home Society
2000Named NBA Player of the Week, February 27
2000Wins NBA slam dunk competition
2000-02Picked to play in NBA All-Star Game