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Patrick Beverley’s journey to the Rockets is the true definition of an underdog

To celebrate underdog week here at SB Nation, here is a look at Patrick Beverley’s journey through perseverance on his way to signing with the Houston Rockets in 2013. 

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

In January of 2013, Patrick Beverley signed a multi-year deal to join the Houston Rockets. He made his debut in the closing minutes of a 117-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, where Beverley notched 3 points, 1 assist and 1 steal in 2 minutes of play. Three months later as Houston’s starting point guard, Beverley had his coming out party during the first round of the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder — now averaging 33.3 minutes per game.

In Games 4 and 5, he helped the Rockets avoid elimination averaging 15.0 points on 47.7% shooting from the field, 45.0% from behind the arc, to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 1.0 block in Houston’s two wins. Seven years later, the same passion and intensity he showcased on the floor of the Toyota Center during the 2013 post-season was the blueprint en route to his reputation as one of the NBA’s elite defenders.

A pro-career that now dwells in Los Angeles once appeared unimaginable during his five-year stint with the Rockets, but even more improbable given his journey to the NBA.

Beverley played his collegiate ball at the University of Arkansas following a decorated high school career in Chicago. He received the SEC Freshman of the Year award and Second-Team All-SEC honors in 2007, but only played two seasons with the Razorbacks due to academic issues as a sophomore.

Rather than severing an academic suspension during his junior year, Beverly’s path to the NBA took a four-year detour across the seven seas that began in the Ukraine. At the time, prospects bypassing or forgoing their college eligibility for a professional career in foreign country was an anomaly — to say the least.

In 2008, Beverley signed a one-year deal with the Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk of the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague and became a UBL All-Star in his lone season — averaging 16.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 46 games.

Despite his second-round selection by the Lakers during the 2009 draft, Beverley’s next stop took him to Pireas, Greece as a member of the Olympiacos Piraeus. Although he captured a championship title with the Olympiacos, the 2009-10 season was a slight setback for the Chicago native.

One year removed from his All-Star selection in Ukraine, Beverley’s on-court production diminished as minutes became longed-for riding the bench in Greece (13.5 MPG). The lack of playing time downgraded him to a 16 game EuroCup league with the Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia, the second-tier level of professional European basketball.

While making the most out of his new opportunity, Beverley flourished in Russia while leading the team to a league-best 13-3 record before succumbing to the 12-4 Lietuvos Rytas during the EuroCup Semifinals.

Miami Heat v New Orleans Hornets Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Beverley’s rise awarded him the 2012 EuroCup Most Valuable Player, averaging 13.3 points and a league-high 1.9 steals per game. Prior to joining Houston the following year, Beverley was on track to surpass his 2012 MVP production posting 12.2 points on 51.1% shooting from the floor through the first six games of the 2013 EuroCup season.

What sometimes gets overlooked when reflecting on Beverley’s unique path is his first attempt at the NBA. In 2009, the Lakers, who held his draft rights, dealt Beverley to the Miami Heat exchange for a 2011 second-round draft pick and cash considerations.

The following year, management waived the then 22-year-old point guard despite an impressive preseason where he posted 7 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in seven preseason games. His best outing came in a 90-73 loss to the Spurs on the night Beverley notched his first NBA double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

The notion of coming within reach of his lifetime goal only to have it taken away was an experience Beverley described as emotional, following the Rockets’ regular-season victory against his former team in 2014.

Three European clubs in three different countries and released by the Heat. Beverley’s journey to the NBA is one filled with trials and tribulations, but perseverance and resilience once he reached the pinnacle of his career with the Rockets in 2013.

It’s a true underdog story that we can all appreciate and use as inspiration through our individual journey in life.