Monday , Jan , 19 , 2009 C.Y. Ellis

Tony Parker: I Almost Went to UCLA

Instead of a high school in the Western Suburbs, Tony was able to attend the prestigious National Institute of Sport in Paris. While other kids rode the bus on snowy days to get to school, Parker was living on his own in one of the world’s great cities, best friend Boris Diaw at his side.

Looking at it from that perspective, it’s easy to see why Parker passed on American high school basketball.

"I was on a campus having a good time," he said. "I almost went to college. I was that close to going to UCLA. At the last moment I changed my mind and I stayed playing professional in Paris."

Parker did get a taste of American basketball growing up. He would visit Chicago with his father during the summers and find pickup games in nearby playgrounds.

"I just remember it was very physical, a lot of trash-talking on the playgrounds in Chicago," he said. "Good competition."