Tracy McGrady, simply known as "T-mac", was born on May 24, 1979 in Bartow, Fl to Melanise Williford and grew up in Auburndale, FL. He was the product of an area called "the Hill" in Auburndale. It is a quaint town of about 9,000, surrounded by lakes halfway between Orlando and Tampa. At Auburndale he quickly became a two-sport star. His first love was baseball with aspirations of playing Major League Baseball. Some Auburndale coaches where certain McGrady would be playing in a Major League ballpark instead of the NBA hardwood. Tracy's family has been a major influence in his life. His Mother Melanise and his Grandmother Roberta raised Tracy. He, eventually, grew to know both women as "mom". Melanise Williford worked as a chambermaid at a Disney World hotel. She made a daily 90-minute commute from her home, near Tampa, in order to get to work each day to support the family. His dad, Tracy McGrady Sr., has had his separate life, but that does not mean he hasn't been there for Tracy. "My dad's been around," he says. "He did what he had to do. He wasn't a bad father." Joe Hopkins, Tracyıs coach from Mount Zion Christian Academy, has been a big part of Tracy's life. Joe taught him to respect others, himself and for the game. "He's my backbone," Tracy says. "If it weren't for Coach Hopkins, none of this would be possible." Hopkins, the basketball coach at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina, received a call about Tracy from Alvin Jones Jr., a basketball coach at Kathleen High, a neighboring High School to Auburndale High. Hopkins drove down to Orlando to go to Disney World with his family, and he stopped in Auburndale to meet with Tracy and his "moms". Hopkins offered Tracy a scholarship to Mount Zion on the ride back to Durham with Tracy, and the rest is history. Tracy's hoops tale began in his Junior Year at Auburndale High. He averaged 23.1 pts and 12.2 rebounds a game with the Bloodhounds his junior year. But despite the great numbers, Tracy's name did not appear on any recruiting lists of Division 1 prospects. Only schools that showed little interest in him were Florida and Miami.
After his junior year at Auburndale High School in Florida, he was invited to play in the ABCD Camp. Tracy was still looking for a way to put himself on the basketball map, he had to let the whole basketball world know who Tracy McGrady was. This was his chance at the annual Adidas ABCD camp in Teaneck, New Jersey. During the senior all-star game, he dribbled down the left wing on a fast break and found only James Felton, a 6'9 Blue Chipper from NJ committed to St Johns, between him and the basket. Tracy went up, cupped the ball in his right hand and executed a windmill dunk over James. He sent the whole gym in frenzy. He was quoted as saying- "After I made that Dunk, I had chills run through my body, Itıs like the moment I knew I had finally arrived". The recruiting newsletter Hoop Scoop praised Tracy as "the sleeper of the decade". After not being included in the top 500 prospects list before the summer, Tracy was ranked #2 behind Lamar Odom, a forward from Redemption Christian Academy. Tracy was then named the USA Today Player of the year. He was even featured in a 3-page article in the February 10 1997 issue of Sports Illustrated. His senior season he transferred to play one year at Mount Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina. Tracy's one year stint at Mount Zion Christian academy was a successful one. He led the Mighty Warriors to a 20-1 record, earning the spot as #2 in the nation in USA TODAY'S Super 25. As a senior, he averaged 27.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game while shooting .564 from field, .389 from three-point range and .791 from free throw line. He was named the USA Today Player of the Year and the Player of the Year in the state of North Carolina by The Associated Press and also was named to the McDonald's All-American Team. In Magic's Round ball Classic, he shot 6-for-7 from the field, sinking his only three-point attempt, and netted 13 points.
As Tracy was set to commit to Kentucky and Rick Pitino, Hopkins got a call from NBA Super scout Marty Blake asking for a schedule. NBA Teams wanted to go out to Mount Zion and watch Tracy play. Tracy McGrady had indeed decided to pursue his dream early. McGrady, a 6-foot-8, 200-pound basketball standout who played all five positions at Durham's Mount Zion Christian Academy, announced his decision to make himself available for the June 25 NBA draft. "I feel this is the best decision for me and my family," said McGrady, who lived with his mother, Melanise, and grandmother, Roberta, in Auburndale, Fla., before moving in with Mount Zion coach Joel Hopkins and 11 teammates. "I considered college, but my dream is to make it to the top, and I had a chance to do that earlier," said McGrady. On draft day, with question marks concerning when and if Tracy would get drafted, the Toronto Raptors were on the clock and ready to make their pick at #9. David Stern announced it, and indeed, Isiah Thomas and the Raptors had taken Tracy McGrady with the 9th pick. He joined the list of high school players making the jump to the NBA successfully. In 1995, the Minnesota Timberwolves picked Kevin Garnett at No. 5. In 1996, Kobe Bryant was chosen at No. 13 by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Portland Trail Blazers took Jermaine OıNeal at No. 17 -- www.t-mac.com