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More Than a Game
Dru Joyce III
October 2, 2009
Interview by Michael Dequina



Dru Joyce III

WARNING!
...spoilers ahead...

MD = Michael Dequina; DJ = "Little" Dru Joyce III



MD: What initially drew you to the game of basketball?

DJ: Ever since I can remember I've been a fan. I would watch my dad [Dru Joyce II] play in leagues and pickup basketball on the weekends. When I began to play, I had fun, so I always wanted to continue playing.

MD: How did your smaller size affect how you played and worked at the game?

DJ: I never felt my size was a disadvantage. If you're going to play, you can't make excuses. I just worked hard and tried to be consistent with my work.

MD: When did you meet Sian [Cotton], Willie [McGee], and LeBron [James] and then start to form a unit?

DJ: I knew them for a couple years before we started playing together at age 10. It wasn't until we formed the team that we started creating the bond that still lasts 'til this day.

MD: You were the one of the "Fab Four" to lead the others to attending St. Vincent-St. Mary for high school. What was the reasoning behind that decision?

DJ: I looked at it as a chance for all four of us to develop as players. I didn't want to be in a system where you have to wait. Bron probably doesn't wait to play varsity at any school, but the rest of us would be in a line. I knew we were ready and capable of playing high school varsity basketball as freshmen.

MD: After winning the first state title freshman season, Romeo [Travis] enters the mix the next year. What was your relationship like in that first year, aad you known of him prior to his arrival in St. V.?

DJ: Yeah, we played basketball in the summer together. With Rome, it was always some type of controversy, Relationships take time to grow so there were many times where we would disagree, but as you start to understand each other you can iron those problems out.

MD: I know you were especially close with Coach Keith Dambrot, so his departure from St. V. following the sophomore year championship must have hit you especially the hardest.

DJ: I was upset; what made it really bad is I didn't hear the news from his first. To get the news from another source didn't sit right with me for a while.

MD: Are you still close with him, after also playing with him at the University of Akron?

DJ: Of course. Coach D has been a huge factor in my life from the day I met the man. He's a dear friend of mine.

MD: What was it like having your father as your coach at various points in your basketball career, from the days of the Amateur Athletic Union tournaments and then later coming into the head coaching position at St. V. during junior year?

DJ: It's tough; it's great; it has its valleys and peaks and probably still would til this day, but I appreciate him making me work for anything I earned and continually challenging me to get better. It has its payoff.

MD: That junior year also marked LeBron's Sports Illustrated cover. What was going through your mind as one of your best friends was suddenly a national celebrity and media hype that came to surround the team?

DJ: It was definitely crazy, but I thought it was great just being there; I got to live it too.

MD: What changes did you personally make after coming short in the championship game that year, both in your game and mentally?

DJ: Physically I made sure I was prepared; I spent nearly as much time in the gym as I did home. Mentally I vowed to sacrifice whatever it took for the team.

MD: How did Romeo finally become a true member of the core group? Did one side reach out to the other officially at a point?

DJ: I think it went without saying. When we asked him to join us and said "Let's be the Fab Five," we were making a joke of it to see how he would react. By the end of junior year, without saying it I had already considered him a best friend of mine, someone who was loyal and I can trust.

MD: What was your favorite memory of your time at St. V. and the most valuable thing you took away from there?

DJ: That we stuck together--we walked into uncharted territories at times, and we always came out stronger as a family.

MD: How was your college experience?

DJ: I went to the University of Akron where I majored in Business Organizational communications. My four years were great; the [basketball] program was average at best when I got there. I made it a personal challenge to turn things around. I still had some things I wanted to showcase to the city of Akron, and playing [at Akron U.] with Rome, I knew he had the same ambitions, and I knew we would get it done.

MD: After graduation, you went on to a pro basketball career.

DJ: I knew I could play at the professional level. When I finished college, I had to make a decision whether I would continue to play or not. I chose to play and went to work as usual.

MD: And you're currently playing in Europe with which team?

DJ: Energa Czarni [in Poland]. Prior to that was Ulm [in Germany, alongside Romeo]. [MD note: As of November 17, 2009, Joyce now plays for Anwil Wloclawek in Poland.]

MD: When exactly did director Kris Belman start filming, and how did you feel about being filmed? Was it easy to be comfortable with him around and how did he gain your trust?

DJ: It's crazy; I don't really remember. I know he was introduced to the team my senior year, and that's about it. I didn't pay him much attention; it wasn't the first camera to be around. He was young and from Akron so we related to some degree, sometimes you just trust people no real rhyme or reason you take a chance.

MD: How was the experience of seeing the film the first time at the Toronto Film Festival last year and then at the Akron premiere this past summer?

DJ: I was nervous; my emotions were all over the place. I've seen it three times so far, and I keep getting the same feeling.

MD: What were your thoughts and feelings on seeing your father's perspective and his own concurrent journey unfold on screen, and were you at all aware how much of an impact your team had on him as a person at the time?

DJ: It's crazy when you're young, and sometimes as players you forget the significance of coaching. You understand they teach you, but you feel like you did it by yourself. Totally false--growing as a man and a player is a tribute to him especially, along with many other adults including the peacemaker and rock: my mother. To see the effect we had on him is heartwarming as well. I hope I can share that love with a family of my own one day.

MD: What do you hope audiences will take from the film and everyone's stories?

DJ: That it's OK to dream, and if you really want it, go chase it. You will always remember your journey on the quest of achieving your dream.


More Interviews:
Coach Dru Joyce II
Willie McGee
Sian Cotton
Romeo Travis
Kristopher Belman & Brian Joe
Harvey Mason Jr.



Dru Joyce III

Special thanks to Dru Joyce III



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Coach Dru Joyce II interview
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Romeo Travis interview
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