Since coming over in a trade from the Charlotte Bobcats in December 2009, Phoenix Suns forward Jared Dudley has endeared himself to fans in the Valley with on-court performance, work in the community and engagement on social media platforms.
Even during a 25-57 season in which he went back and forth between starting and coming off the bench, Dudley's work ethic and approach never changed. It's a trait his mother Melinda said has existed from Day 1.
"He was a very focused kid even when he was young," Melinda told Arizona Sports 620's Doug & Wolf. "I'll share this with you, he never watched cartoons. From age two on, he was always watching sports."
Growing up, Melinda exposed Jared and his brother to a multitude of sports, but admitted one of her fondest memories was teaching her son the value of winning fairly.
"Both of my sons started out with soccer then baseball, flag football, and I grew up playing tennis so I exposed them to that," said Melinda. Funny story on that one, was that when (Pete) Sampras was playing (Andre) Agassi at the US Open, Jared turned to me and said, 'You know I want to play tennis.' We would go out there and he was so competitive, always. He would get so mad that he couldn't beat me, but I mean I grew up playing tennis and this was his first time out there.
"So he said to me, 'Just give me a couple of games, just let me be up by a couple games.' He was probably in grammar school at the time, but I told him he had to beat me."
Winning hasn't been a prominent part of Dudley's career of the past three seasons in Phoenix, but Melinda said she's proud of the way her son has handled everything in stride.
"He has stayed humble," she said. "He is such a kind young man, truly a kind young man."