|Born||October 5, 1967|
Bowling Green, Kentucky
|Listed height||6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)|
|Listed weight||185 lb (84 kg)|
|High school||Apollo (Owensboro, Kentucky)|
|NBA draft||1988 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8th overall|
|Selected by the Charlotte Hornets|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||9,731 (14.6 ppg)|
|Rebounds||1,645 (2.5 rpg)|
|Assists||1,798 (2.7 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Rex Everett Chapman (born October 5, 1967) is an American retired professional basketball player and social media influencer. Chapman was a high school phenom, winning numerous awards for his play. After choosing to play for University of Kentucky, in his home state, he won further awards and scored over 1,000 points during his two seasons. Chapman became the first draft pick of the expansion Charlotte Hornets and played on four National Basketball Association (NBA) teams during a 12-year career. During his career he averaged 14.6 points per game, had several memorable games, and appeared in two slam dunk competitions.
During his NBA career Chapman also experienced numerous injuries which led to drug addiction. Following an arrest for shoplifting, he entered drug rehab for the third time and was able to overcome his addiction to opioids. After retiring Chapman also held several jobs with NBA teams culminating in being the vice president of player personnel with the Denver Nuggets. He currently serves as a broadcaster for University of Kentucky basketball games. Chapman, to his surprise, became popular on Twitter by tweeting videos, frequently light-hearted or inspiring, to his followers.
Rex Chapman was born October 5, 1967 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Rex's father was Wayne Chapman who played in the American Basketball Association and coached Kentucky Wesleyan College to two NCAA Division II national championships. Chapman had a turbulent relationship with his father; he and his sister, Jenny, "used to pray that Wayne's teams would win" so the mood of the house would not be tense, while his mother, Laura, would attempt to diffuse the tension.
High school and college career
Chapman was a high school basketball star at Apollo High School in Owensboro, Kentucky.:2:20–2:38 During his junior year, Chapman led his team to the state quarterfinals. He racked up numerous awards and accolades his senior year including Mr. Basketball of Kentucky,so Gatorade State Player of the Year, Associated Press Player of the Year, and McDonalds's All-American. In 2020 radio host Matt Jones described Chpaman as, "the biggest high school basketball player that ever came from the state.":2:20–2:38 He was inducted into the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. Chapman was heavily recruited by many universities, but he chose to stay close to home when he signed with the University of Kentucky.:3:00–3:30
Chapman was a star with the Kentucky Wildcats. His Freshman year, he averaged 16 points a game, was named Southeastern Conference (SEC) Freshman of the Year, set a record for points by a freshman, and led the Wildcats to the NCAA Tournament.:4:12–4:20 He improved his sophomore year average 19 points a game.:5:12–5:22 Chapman, joined by teammates such as future NBA journeyman Winston Bennett, helped lead Kentucky to the SEC title[a] with a 27–6 record. The Wildcats were ranked as the 6th college basketball team in the nation by the Associated Press and UPI and secured the number two seed in the South region of the 1988 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Kentucky reached the Sweet Sixteen, where Chapman scored a career best 30 points in a losing effort against Villanova. Chapman was named to the All-SEC Team both of his college years and amassed a total of 1,073 points before opting to enter the NBA draft.:5:30–5:34 Chapman left the University as a "campus legend" with the nickname "King Rex".:1:23–1:30
However, Chapman's time at Kentucky was not entirely positive. While he enjoyed playing basketball there he found the off-court scrutiny and attention difficult.:4:26 - 5:08 He, who is white, was harassed by other students and the coaching staff for continuing to date his black high school girlfriend, "It wore on me... It was hateful."
Chapman was selected with the 8th overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft and became the first player ever drafted by the Charlotte Hornets. Chapman averaged 16.9 points per game in his rookie season. Chapman would compete in the 1990 and 1991 Slam Dunk Contests earning recognition for his dunks where he'd flip the ball. After two-and-a-half seasons with the Hornets, Chapman was traded midway through the 1991–1992 season to the Washington Bullets. He was injured, however, and could only participate in the final game of the season.
Washington Bullets & Miami Heat
Chapman was traded to the Washington Bullets in exchange for Tom Hammonds on February 19, 1992. He played 60 games during the 1993–94 season and 45 games during the 1994–95 season. After getting off to a strong start in the 94–95 season and being named an All Star for the only time in his career, Chapman injured his ankle and did not play in the game. Danny Ainge, who would coach Chapman with the Phoenix Suns and become a close friend, speculated that Chapman played smart all-out basketball in an attempt to win a championship or be an All Star.
He was traded to the Miami Heat in 1995. Chapman started strong and averaged 14.8 points per game that year. On February 23, 1996, he scored 39 points (converting 9 of 10 3-point attempts) and lead an injury-plagued Miami Heat team with an 8-man roster to a 113–104 victory over the Chicago Bulls, handing the Bulls one of their 10 losses during their historic 72-10 run. Unfortunately, later in the season Chapman found himself on the injured list again and only participated in 56 games. He eventually signed with the Suns.
Chapman played in 65 games, and scored 13 points per game for Phoenix for the 1996–1997 season. He played well in the Suns' last four games of the regular season. He had two memorable games against the Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the play-offs. In Game 1, he set a play-off record for three point shots. In game four he hit an off-balance three point shot on an inbounds pass to send the game to overtime, though the Suns would later lose.
Chapman played 68 games during the 1997–1998 season for the Suns, scoring almost 16 points per game. But he would be injured again during the strike shortened 1999 season, playing 38 games. During his time with the Suns, Chapman began having painful nerve pains in his foot, had seven surgeries, and began to regularly take Vicodin. After 53 games during the 1999–2000 season, Chapman's various injuries and declining performance led him to retire.:8:30–9:01 In the spring before he retired, Chapman had an emergency appendectomy. After the surgery he was prescribed Oxy-contin which increased his drug dependency, in part because it also helped ease the social anxiety he felt.
Chapman played a total of 666 regular season NBA games, scoring 9,731 points for an average of 14.6 points per game, with 1,798 assists for an average of 2.7 assists per game, and 1,645 rebounds, for 2.5 rebounds per game.
After retiring from active play Chapman's drug addiction intensified.:9:35 He also began betting on horse racing daily. Betting on horses had been a distraction for him from childhood through his time in the NBA, where he hid his habit.:6:40–7:08 Chapman would eventually stop betting and go to Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Urged by Ainge to enter rehab for his drug problem, Chapman was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and depression, for which he was medicated. Following rehab, he was troubled by abdomen pain and had surgery to remove a pin from his wrist. Following the surgery he was prescribed Vicodin and resumed his addiction, seeking treatment in 2002. After breaking the addiction, a doctor suggested he try Suboxone, medicine used to treat opioid addiction, which successfully addressed a resurgence of his abdomen pains. Over time, Suboxone caused Chapman to lose energy and clouded his thinking.
Chapman held several jobs in short succession following his retirement. After his second time in rehab, he was hired by the Suns, first as a scout and later as Director of Basketball Operations. He served as a color commentator on TNT during the NBA Playoffs. In 2005, he moved from Phoenix to accept a personnel scout position with the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2006, he accepted the position of vice president of player personnel with the Denver Nuggets which he held for four years.
When he left the Nuggets his personal life was in trouble. He was divorcing his wife, sharing custody of their four children. Chapman had also become estranged from his parents and sister. His life continued to spiral down after leaving basketball. He worked in a variety of jobs as a basketball broadcaster including for Grand Canyon University in 2013.
In September 2014, Chapman was arrested for shoplifting merchandise from an Apple Store in Scottsdale, Arizona. Chapman made it appear that he was paying for an item at self checkout but leave the store and pawn the item to pay for gambling debts.:12:16 - 12:20 Returning to the store several times, he was eventually identified by multiple employees based on his tenure in the NBA. Following the arrest Chapman entered a rehab facility in Louisville, Kentucky run by a former University of Kentucky teammate. After a week of being drug free his abdomen pain returned and he was taken to a hospital where he was treated for an ulcer. Chapman's pain went away but the experience angered him, "This whole time I've been thinking I've got this jones for pain medication, it was really just an ulcer". During this time in rehab, he was prescribed Zoloft for his depression and began deep psychotherapy for the first time.
Following his time in Louisville, he continued to seek treatment in Texas and was hired by TNT to broadcast Kentucky's 2015 Final Four Game. In September 2015, Chapman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation. He agreed to pay more than $15,000 to the Apple Store and complete 750 hours of community service. He would eventually move back to Lexington where he says he has stayed clean, eats healthily, and swims daily.:13:45 - 13:57 He hosts a pre-game show before Wildcat basketball games.:14:00–14:05
Social media influencer
Chapman has been labeled as a social media influencer for his work on Twitter, with almost one million followers. Chapman, however, doesn't quite agree with being labeled that way, "I'm not even sure what that means... Me, an influencer? Man, I hope not." He first joined Twitter as part of his job as a broadcaster. He began attracting followers after posting a video of dolphins charging into a paddle boarder, the first in a series of "block or charge?" tweets. Besides "Block or charge", Chapman also is known for tweeting "Dogs bruh", "Content I'm here for" and light-hearted or funny videos.:16:12–16:22 Chapman sees himself, "bringing people together, man. One stupid video at a time." This attitude reflects his desire to stay focused on the positive rather than negative with social media. To find the videos he tweets, Chapman will search daily using selected keywords and while also relying on recommendations from certain Twitter users.
After previously declining any kind of sponsorship, during the COVID-19 pandemic Chapman was able to raise more than $150,000 to support those experiencing financial hardship. Despite his social media success, Chapman is glad that it was not around when he was a professional athlete. Since 2019, Chapman has been the television presenter of a Block or Charge show which appeared on Adult Swim and built off his tweets.
- The SEC title would later be vacated.
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- "Newcomer Rex Chapman Joins Dick Stockton and John Thompson to Call TNT's HDTV Telecasts of the 2004 NBA All-Star Game and NBA All-Star Saturday". www.businesswire.com. January 15, 2004. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
- "Announcers selected for regionalized Final Four broadcasts | NCAA.com". www.ncaa.com. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
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