Mike Brown has his hands full coaching Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, but that hasn't stopped him from helping a family friend reach her basketball dreams.
The Lakers coach and his wife, Carolyn, became the legal guardian of Nina Fields, a top female basketball prospect from Montreal, so she could continue her career. In other words, he adopted her to let her play basketball.
Fields left her mother and six brothers behind in Canada about four years ago, in search of hoops heaven in the United States. Her journey has taken her 3,600 miles, first to the Cleveland area, where she spent the first two years of high school. After that school closed, Fields headed to Virginia's legendary Oak Hill Academy for a year. Now she's in Orange County, California living with the Brown family.
"I'm like their only daughter," Fields said with a chuckle.
The Lakers coach has two sons.
At first her legal guardian was AAU coach Michael Duncan. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports one of Duncan's players was then-Cavs coach Mike Brown's son Elijah Brown. The Brown family became friends with Fields and when Mike got the Lakers job, he invited her to move in with them in California.
All things considered, it couldn't have worked out better for the suburban Montreal native. Fields helped lead Mater Dei high school to the California 1AA state title last month and was selected as a McDonald's All-American and she's picked up a college scholarship.
"It was worth it," Fields told the Plain Dealer "I'm going to a great high school academically and athletically, and I got to have a great senior year, and I'm going to UCLA. "I have no regrets."
Follow Ben Maller on Twitter @BenMaller.
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