At 26, Spencer Dinwiddie already has a history of defying the odds.
First, the California native suffered what could have been a career-ending injury in college that threatened his childhood dream of playing in the NBA. Instead, he recovered and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 2014, a feat that happens for just 1% of high school basketball players, according to figures from the NCAA.
Then, just a few years later, he was cut to the minor leagues and his hoop dreams appeared uncertain once again. Still, he persevered and was among a few dozen players who made it back to the big leagues. Today he's a starting point guard for the Brooklyn Nets with a $34.4 million contract.
While many fans may know Dinwiddie for his on-court achievements, they may not be aware how hard he's had to work to overcome adversity and bounce back from lows. Dinwiddie recently sat down with Grow to discuss his off-the-court ventures and the most valuable money lessons he's learned. Here, he offers advice about how to navigate the ups-and-downs of any career.
Professional athletes must be comfortable with a lot of uncertainty. They have no control over things like what team will draft them, whether they'll get traded to a different team, and when they may sustain an injury.
But there's plenty within a player's control, like the effort he puts in, and it can help to focus on that. "One of the only things I talk about all the time," Dinwiddie says, is what he calls "the process." For him, that means things like an off-season where he devotes six hours a day, six days a week, to working out, conditioning, practicing, and taking care of his body.
"Whatever process you see as [a] consistent building block, stepping stone, and constructive toward your goal, you have to — in a lot of moments — stay heads down on that process," Dinwiddie says. "You keep the main goal and vision in mind, but [in] the day-to-day just stay diligent within your process."
Video by Jason Armesto
During what could have been career lows — when Dinwiddie wasn't seeing much playing time and was cut two different times to the minor league, for example — he persevered. "I could feel basketball rising, and I felt like if the process was good and I stayed dedicated to the game and continued working and all that stuff, then the money and all that stuff would turn."
Some of the pivotal points in Dinwiddie's career came about only because other players got hurt. Still, he was primed and ready to take over. For the rest of us, taking advantage of an unexpected opportunity might look more like nailing a job interview or an audition.
"If they're not giving you the opportunity, you have to just be patient and wait and then when opportunity comes, you have to maximize it," Dinwiddie says. "You're not getting another one; this is your one chance, make the most of it."
Video by Jason Armesto
While basketball remains Dinwiddie's primary source of revenue, he's already started to pursue his post-NBA career as a tech entrepreneur. As he writes on his website, "Off the court, I build businesses that improve the lives of others and make the world a better place."
In that sense, Dinwiddie can relate to people who are looking for challenges outside of their day jobs or are trying to diversify their incomes and add other income streams. And he takes an academic approach by learning as much as possible about the topics that intrigue him, like blockchain technology or cryptocurrencies.
Whether you're starting a side hustle or pursuing a passion project, it helps to develop your expertise. "Everybody with a 9-to-5 but that has that business, passion, or opportunity that they want to pursue, I say learn as much as you can about it," Dinwiddie says. "Dive into it full force in terms of building your acumen and becoming as well versed as possible."
"And then when you have the means to do it, if you're operating from a place of knowledge, go for it," Dinwiddie continues. "Don't be scared to pursue your dreams or to fail if you're doing it from an educated perspective."
More from Grow: