RJ Barrett’s parents, Rowan and Kesha Barrett, have been with him from the start. RJ is originally from Mississauga, Canada which is located outside of Toronto. RJ’s parents met as student-athletes at St. John’s University.
RJ’s dad, Rowan, played basketball, while his mom, Kesha, was a sprinter on the track team. When asked by Newsday which of his parents is more competitive, the Duke guard had trouble deciding.
“That’s tough. That is tough. I’d say my dad,” Barrett noted to Newsday. “I mean, my mom is crazy competitive. She always wants to beat my dad. But my dad never wants us to beat him. Ever. He doesn’t have to say too much, but I know he does not want us to win.”
Learn more about the Barrett family.
1. RJ’s Dad Is a Former Pro Basketball Player & the Current GM of the Canadian National Team
Rowan played professional basketball in Canad and Europe. According to CBC, he was teammates with Steve Nash on the Canadian national team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Rowan believes his experience as a basketball player helped his son develop his game.
“He would always be out on the court after the games, shooting, you know, coming in after practice,” Rowan noted to CBC. “The great thing was my professional team also had a club team at the lower ages and, while I was playing with the men, he was playing with the children. Same uniform as Dad, and everything else. He had the same number. It was good early beginnings for him.”
2. RJ’s Godfather Is Former NBA Star Steve Nash
Not only does RJ come from a family of athletes, but his godfather is also a former NBA player. RJ spoke with Heavy back in 2017 about his relationship with Steve.
“He’s [Steve Nash] a very cool, humble guy,” RJ explained. “Two-time NBA MVP, so for him to take the time out of his day to give me advice on anything is pretty good.”
According to Zags Blog, Steve won the last time the two played one-on-one.
“I beat him,” Steve said, per Zags Blog. “It was closer than I would’ve liked it to be and I’m going to take that win and run with it and hopefully never have to defend it in my life.”
3. RJ’s Mom Ran Track at St. John’s
RJ’s mom was a top sprinter at St. John’s. According to Slam, RJ’s aunt (his mother’s sister) represented Jamaica at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
“In my family we’re very competitive,” RJ told Slam. “Everyone is always trying to beat each other. Everyone is an athlete, so that’s where I get all my competitive drive.”
4. During the College Recruitment Process, RJ’s Dad Asked Each School for Detailed Reports on How They Planned on Utilizing RJ
When it came time for his son to commit to a college, Rowan utilized some of the same skills he uses with the Canadian national team to help RJ pick a school. Montverde’s head coach Kevin Boyle spoke with Heavy about the Barrett family’s thorough process before committing to Duke.
“His father is involved in Canada basketball,” Kevin noted to Heavy. “His dad did a lot of research on schools. If you meet his father, [you notice] he is very intelligent and analytical. When they got to the colleges [Rowan] wanted each college to show, in great detail, how they were going to use R.J. What sets they were going to use. How much they were going to use him at the point. How much they were going to play him at the off-guard. Other players [on the team], and their skill level. What is their level like playing with someone who is better than them? Breaking things down from the nutrition to the sleep. Everything. That’s what he does for Canada basketball, and he has been doing it for a long time.”
5. RJ Moved Away From Home When He Was 15 Years Old
RJ not only moved away from home when he was 15 years old, but he traveled to the United States from his home country of Canada. RJ attended Montverde High School in Florida located about an hour north of Orlando. Montverde has produced a number of NBA players including Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
“The first year was definitely the worst,” RJ told Myrtle Beach Online during a 2017 interview. “It was a new environment, I was not used to being away from my parents for a long period of time. As time goes on I won’t see them for a long time and we’re just fine with it now. This is how my life’s going to be so we’re getting used to it.”