Steve Nash — Stephen John Nash, OC, OBC was born on 7 February 1974. He is a Canadian professional basketball player who plays point guard for the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nash, who was born in South Africa to British parents but grew up in Canada, enjoyed a successful high-school basketball career, and he was eventually given a scholarship by Santa Clara University. In his four seasons with the Broncos, the team made three NCAA Tournament appearances, and Nash was twice named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year.
After graduating from Santa Clara as the team’s all-time leader in assists, Nash entered the 1996 NBA Draft and was selected as the 15th pick by the Phoenix Suns. He made a minimal impact, and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 1998. By his third season with the Mavericks, he was voted into his first NBA All-Star Game and had earned his first All-NBA selection. Together with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley, Nash led the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals the following season. However, he became a free agent after the 2003–04 season and returned to the Phoenix Suns.
In the 2004–05 season, Nash led the Suns to the Western Conference Finals, and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). He was named MVP again in the 2005–06 season, and missed out on a third consecutive MVP title to Nowitzki the next season. Named by ESPN in 2006 as the ninth greatest point guard of all time, Nash has led the league in assists and free-throw percentage at various points in his career. He is also ranked as one of the top players in league history for three-point shooting, free-throw shooting, total assists and assists per game.
Nash, who is married, is involved in charity and humanitarian work, and he is also interested in soccer and film-making. In 2006, Time named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. On 28 December 2007 it was announced that Nash would receive Canada’s highest civilian honour, the Order of Canada, and on 3 June 2008, it was announced that Nash would receive a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. On 18 September 2009, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Victoria, in recognition of his athletic achievements and his philanthropic work on behalf of young people through the Steve Nash Foundation.
Nash was born in Johannesburg, South Africa to a Welsh mother and an English father on 7 February 1974. His family moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, when he was 18 months old, then to Vancouver, before finally settling in Victoria, British Columbia. Although Nash played soccer and ice hockey, often with his younger brother Martin, he did not start playing basketball until he was 12 or 13. However, in grade eight, he told his mother that one day he would play in the NBA and become a star.
Nash originally attended Mount Douglas Secondary School, but after his grades began to drop, his parents decided to enroll him at St. Michaels University School, a private boarding school. At St. Michaels, he starred in basketball, soccer, and rugby union. While playing basketball during his senior season, Nash averaged 21.3 points, 11.2 assists, and 9.1 rebounds per game. In the 1991–92 season, he led his team in his final year to the British Columbia AAA provincial championship title, and was named the province’s Player of the Year.
Although Nash’s high school coach, Ian Hyde-Lay, sent letters of inquiry and highlight reels on Nash’s behalf to over 30 American universities, Nash was not recruited by any university, until Santa Clara head coach Dick Davey requested video footage of the young guard.It didn’t take a Nobel Prize winner to figure out this guy’s pretty good. It was just a case of hoping that none of the big names came around.” However, Davey also told Nash that he was “the worst defensive player” he had ever seen.
Nash was awarded a scholarship by Santa Clara for the 1992–93 season. At that time, it had been five years since the Broncos appeared in the NCAA tournament. That changed when Nash led the Broncos to a West Coast Conference (WCC) title and an upset win over the No. 2 seeded Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. In that game, Nash scored six straight free throws in the last 30 seconds of the contest.
The team rebounded in the 1994–95 season, with Nash being named Conference Player of the Year and the Broncos topping the WCC. Featuring the league leader for scoring and assists in Nash, the Broncos returned to the NCAA tournament, but they were defeated by Mississippi State. After the season, Nash contemplated turning professional, and decided against it when he learned that he would probably not be considered as a first-round pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.
In the 1995–96 season, Nash began attracting the attention of the national media and professional scouts. He had spent the summer before that honing his skills, playing with the Canadian national team and working out with the likes of established NBA players Jason Kidd and Gary Payton. Santa Clara again captured the WCC title, and for the second consecutive year, Nash was named Conference Player of the Year, the first Bronco to do so since Kurt Rambis. He scored 28 points in leading the #10 seed Broncos to a first round upset win over #7 seed Maryland, but then the Broncos were eliminated by Kansas. Nash’s performances ensured that he was named Honorable Mention All-America as a senior by The Associated Press and the USBWA. He also finished his career as Santa Clara’s all-time leader in career assists (510), free-throw percentage (.862), and made and attempted three-pointers (263–656). He remains third on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,689), and holds Santa Clara’s single-season free-throw percentage record (.894). In September 2006, Nash had his jersey (#11) retired, becoming the first Santa Clara student-athlete to receive that honour.
In 1993, while in college, Nash played for the national team and competed in the Canada Games and World University Games. He won a bronze medal at the Canada Games and won a silver medal at the World University Games, losing to Team USA, which included players such as Michael Finley and Damon Stoudamire.
Nash captained Canada at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. He led Canada to win their round robin group with a victory over Spain and a stunning 83–75 win over favoured Yugoslavia when he scored 26 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. Canada was eliminated in the quarterfinals with a loss to France and Nash left the court in tears. Nash expressed disappointment with the result, saying “It hurts a lot. I feel like I let everybody down. We could have been in the championship game. We were good enough.” Nevertheless, he did see a possible silver lining, saying “Hopefully kids [in Canada] will be inspired to play—that’s what I really hope.” A victory in its final game of the tournament, a placement game against Russia, enabled Canada to salvage 7th place. Nash’s Olympic performance propelled him to stardom in Canada and he finished fifth in voting for the 2000 Lionel Conacher Award, which is handed out to the Canadian male athlete of the year.
Nash again led Team Canada during qualifying for the 2004 Summer Olympics at the Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was named tournament MVP, but Canada finished fourth, missing out on the three Olympic spots available. That was the last time Nash played for Canada. In December 2007, he said, “In my mind right now, I’m not going to play for Canada any more.”
Nash is married to Alejandra Amarilla, whom he met in 2001 in Manhattan. They married in June 2005 and have twin daughters, Lola and Bella, born on 14 October 2004.
Nash’s younger brother, Martin Nash, plays soccer for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and has made 30 appearances for the Canadian national soccer team. Their younger sister, Joann, was the captain of the University of Victoria Vikes women’s soccer team for three years and was named a Canada West Universities Athletic Association All-Star. She is married to Manny Malhotra of the NHL.
Nash has a medical condition called spondylolisthesis, which causes muscle tightness and back pain. Due to the condition, when he is not in the game he lies on his back rather than sitting on the bench to keep his muscles from stiffening.
In 2001, Nash formed the Steve Nash Foundation. Through grants to public service and nonprofit entities, the foundation aims to foster health in kids by funding projects that provide services to children affected by poverty, illness, abuse, or neglect, and create opportunity for education, play, and empowerment. It focuses its resources on communities in Phoenix, Arizona, and British Columbia, Canada. It was given charitable status in 2004. This foundation was awarded the Steve Patterson Award for Excellence in Sports Philanthropy in 2008. Nash also founded the Jim Jennings Memorial Endowment Fund, established in honour of a volunteer staff member at Santa Clara University who served the basketball team for more than 20 years.
Elsewhere, Nash is the sponsor of the Steve Nash Youth Basketball League in British Columbia that has grown over 10,000 participants. He has also become involved with GuluWalk, a Canadian-operated charitable organization that raises awareness and funds for the war-affected children of northern Uganda. In September 2007, Nash and Yao Ming headlined a group of NBA players who travelled to China and played an exhibition game with the Chinese national basketball team. The charity event reportedly raised 2.5 million dollars, earmarked for Chinese children in need. In May 2006, Nash was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In the accompanying write-up by Charles Barkley, Nash was lauded for his unselfishness on the basketball court, and being “just a nice guy” who had paid for a new pediatric cardiology ward in a Paraguayan hospital.
Nash is known to be selective about endorsing products, preferring to work with companies he deems socially responsible. After winning his first MVP award, he was approached to be the spokesperson for numerous products, including MDG Computers, Raymond Weil watches, Vitamin Water, and Clearly Canadian bottled water. He also has a longstanding relationship with Nike. Like fellow NBA stars Yao Ming, Carmelo Anthony, and Greg Oden, Nash is represented by agent Bill Duffy.
Nash grew up playing soccer—he stated in a 2005 interview that he could have played professionally if he had focused on it—and continues to hold an interest in the sport. When Dirk Nowitzki arrived in the NBA from Germany, he and Nash became close friends, in part because they enjoyed watching soccer together. Nash is friends with several professional soccer players, including Alessandro Del Piero, Thierry Henry, Owen Hargreaves, Massimo Ambrosini and Steve McManaman. During his off-season, when he lives in New York City, he has trained with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer, and once tried to arrange a pick-up game in the city’s Central Park with the Red Bulls and one of his local teams.
Nash is also a fan of Brazilian team Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, which his former Suns teammate Leandro Barbosa supports. When Barbosa visited Corinthians in 2007, the club gave him a shirt with Nash’s name and jersey number.
Nash had also previously made statements about his intention to bring Major League Soccer to Vancouver as early as 2011, which he has succeeded in doing. He joined the USL-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC team’s ownership group in July 2008 and in March 2009, Vancouver was officially named as a future MLS expansion city, set to join the league in 2011.
Nash, along with former Yahoo! president and fellow Victoria-native Jeff Mallett, are investors in Women’s Professional Soccer, a soccer league that was launched in March 2009. Nash cited his twin daughters and wanting to have role models for them to look up to as a reason for supporting the league. Nash also co-hosted Showdown in Chinatown in 2008, an 8-on-8 charity soccer game held at Sara D. Roosevelt Park. He scored two goals in his team’s 8–5 victory. Participants included Thierry Henry, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, and Suns teammates Raja Bell and Leandro Barbosa.
Nash, Wayne Gretzky, Nancy Greene and Catriona LeMay Doan participate in the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the 2010 Winter Olympics.Nash and a Montreal-based partner, Leonard Schlemm, opened the first Steve Nash Sports Club in the spring of 2007 in downtown Vancouver, a high-end, $5-million, 38,500-square-foot (3,580 m2) facility that will mirror Nash’s own fitness philosophy.
In 2007, Nash wrote and produced an 81-second commercial for Nike titled “Training Day”, directed by Julian Schnabel’s daughter Lola, which gained popularity as a viral video on YouTube. Nash also started a film production company together with his cousin, filmmaker Ezra Holland, and intends to produce independent films. The first creative effort to come from Meathawk was a 91-second commercial, titled “The Sixty Million Dollar Man”, for Nike’s eco-friendly Trash Talk shoe, the first high-performance shoe to be made—at the behest of the environmentally conscious Nash—from recycled materials. Nash has worn the shoe since February 2008 but Nike produced only 5,000 pairs for sale. The ad which broke virally on Earth Day 2008, was written by Nash and the directors of the spot, Danny Vaia and Ezra Holland. It is a spoof remake of the title sequence of the American television series The Six Million Dollar Man and plays on Nash’s numerous on-court collisions. Amar’e Stoudemire and Raja Bell have cameo appearances.
For the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, Nash became the first NBA player in Olympic history to carry the torch and light the Olympic cauldron.