Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden


Hard work takes Wilcox from tobacco fields to Garden

Chris Wilcox isnt afraid of hard work.

Growing up in Whiteville, North Carolina, it was the only option.

I worked in the fields and did everything, Wilcox told CSNNE.com. Im a country boy. I picked tobacco. We had dogs chasing hogs back. We had everything. You name it, I did it.

The Boston Celtics power forward was raised in a family with a strong work ethic. His mother, Debra Brown, was as a corrections officer and worked in the prisons for nearly 30 years and his father, Raymond Wilcox, recently retired from his job at a federal penitentiary.

I knew how to work for mine, he said. I never wanted something to be given because I always could work for it.

Wilcox began working when he was around 11 years old. Before he was pulling down rebounds, he was hanging tobacco. Before he was protecting the paint, he was protecting himself from animals he encountered in the barns.

I was in the country, so it wasnt even a town, Wilcox said. Tobacco fields and all that all the way around. Everywhere around me, it was all farm land. You could easily get work. The main thing in North Carolina was tobacco. School wouldnt even be in yet if the tobacco wasnt out of the fields, they would push school back.

I picked tobacco. I hung tobacco in the barn. In tobacco fields, a tobacco barn isnt anything but a barn in the middle of the field thats just been sitting there. So when you open the door, you could see anything in there. If you saw a snake you had to kill it, but I never messed around with snakes. Thats when you get the big rats, everything.

In addition to working with tobacco, Wilcox and his friends asked neighbors if they needed their lawns cut or other odd jobs done around their homes and on their land.

We used to have dogs in the neighborhood to chase the pigs back when they get out, he said. Theyd give us five dollars if you bring your dog up there and chase the hogs back into the pen. Im deep down in the country.

One of Wilcoxs earliest jobs involved going around to local schools, helping to barrel old milk, and then pouring it into buckets to feed the pigs. It wasnt glamorous -- and it didnt always smell great -- but it was how he and his friends spent many of their days growing up.

Everybody in the neighborhood, we would work, he said. Anything we could do in the neighborhood, thats what we did.

This season Wilcox is looking to work as hard in Boston as he did back in Whiteville. After suffering a shoulder injury, he is looking to turn around a slow start. He is averaging just 2.4 rebounds per game -- the least since his rookie year -- and a career-low 1.4 points per game off the Celtics bench.

But the big man who learned to drive on his uncles tractor is driven to succeed. He returns to his hometown every summer, remembers where he came from, and tells himself to keep going further.

It showed me what Ive been through and that nothing is ever given to you, Wilcox said. When times get rough, I just look back.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: George, Hayward, or Griffin?

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0:41 - Celtics are reportedly trying to trade for Paul George and sign Gordon Hayward. Kevin O’Connor joins BST to break down how the Celtics could fit both players under the cap and what Boston would have to give up to acquire George. 

6:37 - Kevin O’Connor joins Michael Holley, Kayce Smith, and Tom Curran to talk about Blake Griffin, what kind of contract he could get, and if Griffin could be a better fit over Gordon Hayward. 

10:13 - With Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs getting into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Phil Perry joins Tom Curran to discuss how Robert Kraft getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame might not be as easy of a process as you think. 

14:05 - If the Celtics were to add George and Hayward or Griffin, would they be a better team than the Cavaliers? Curran, Giles, and Smith discuss.