A classmate familiar with the award-winning 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams" approached Gates that afternoon and told him he'd never be as good a player as his dad.
Occasional jabs like that were probably inevitable for a kid whose father's basketball exploits were chronicled in one of the most popular documentaries ever made, but the younger Gates exacerbated the situation by trying to emulate his dad. Since Gates wore the same jersey number as his father, attended the same Catholic high school and even played for the same coach, teammates resented the attention he received and opposing fans taunted him with derisive chants.
"Once they found out who my dad was, people in the stands would say, 'You're nothing like your dad' or they'd chant, 'Hoop Dreams' in my face," Gates said. "Being 14, that was a lot to swallow. I was just trying to have fun, but I really couldn't at that time. It was a lot of pressure because I basically tried to recreate my dad's life. I wasn't really playing for me anymore. I was playing so people would be like, 'Oh, you are just as good as your dad.'"
The challenge of trying to eclipse his father's legend gradually drained Gates' passion for basketball.
When he played on the JV team at St. Joseph as a freshman, he felt like a failure because his dad spent all four years on varsity. When he cracked the varsity starting lineup as a sophomore, he still viewed it as a disappointment because his dad had emerged as one of Chicago's best players by then.Read More »from William Gates Jr. is emerging from his famous dad’s shadow and carving his own path