Believe it or not, we are less than one month away from the first Magic preseason game. Orlando will open training camp on October 1 and open the preseason in Mexico City against New Orleans on October 7. So how will we get ready? By counting down to the beginning of the season on November 2 against Denver. Let's continue:
When I was in middle school, my school's basketball team was practicing at a rec center in Southwest Orlando. During a water break in practice a familiar face caught my eye walking around. In a moment where I realized I probably knew too much about the Magic.
The 6-foot-9 man walking toward me during that break in practice was former Magic draft pick David Vaughn. And I was probably the only one on the team that recognized him — and that was only because I recognized him from a basketball card I had growing up. It made my day (sorry, I rode the bench for most of my basketball career, so spotting David Vaughn was the highlight of my season… OK, not really, I had a four-point game in a five-point win, highlight of my middle school career).
It is OK if you are a Magic fan and do not remember Vaughn. His time in the NBA was extremely brief. With the Magic he played 68 games in two seasons (starting six of them in 1997). He averaged 2.1 points per game and 2.6 rebounds per game. It was more than a cup of coffee in the league for the former Memphis star — he averaged 14.2 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game in college — but not quite a full meal.
Vaughn's story was not about what he did in the league though. It is about his journey afterward.
"I feel lucky to still be alive,'' Vaughn said last week when we met at the downtown public library, heaven for an avid reader and a day-time haven for anyone living on the streets. It's where he felt comfortable enough to sit and talk about his life after basketball, about his downward spiral, about hitting bottom nine months ago in that hospital room, and his rebirth through the last several months.
"I went from the pinnacle of having it all, to the pits of having absolutely nothing, and seeing no light at the end of the tunnel,'' he said. "I was a mess, but I didn't want to end up in hell. And now I'm on my way back."
Vaughn earned nearly $2.3 million in his four-year career. He found all of it gone by 2008 and he was homeless and living on the street. If you have not read Povtak's story, or even if you have not read it in a long time, give it a read.
Through some digging and public records search, I can report Vaughn is no longer homeless and remains in Orlando. As Povtak suggested in his article three years ago, he had tried to reconcile with his wife and his children. So there appears to be good news at the end of this story.
The story is not over, of course. But Vaughn is living in anonymity and hopefully finding his passions in life.
Hopefully, one day Vaughn can enjoy being part of the Magic family once again.
We are 42 days from tip off.