PJ Tucker celebrates NBA championship at Chavis Park, where he played his first basketball game

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Sunday, August 15, 2021
PJ Tucker celebrates NBA Championship at Chavis Park
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PJ Tucker, a Raleigh native and Enloe grad, finally accomplished his childhood dream as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns to become NBA Champions.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- PJ Tucker's journey to becoming an NBA champion isn't the most common. At 36 years old, he's bounced around different teams and even spent some time playing overseas. But ever since he was a kid playing basketball in Raleigh, he was determined to become an NBA champion and on Saturday he was able to celebrate that accomplishment with his community.

As the clock hit zero during Milwaukee's series-clinching win in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Phoenix, the ball was in the hands of Tucker who couldn't believe it was actually happening.

"It's not real," he said. "It can't be real."

After 15 years of playing professional basketball, from the NBA to Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Germany and back to the league, Tucker finally accomplished his childhood dream as the Bucks became NBA Champions for the first time in 50 years.

"It means everything," said Tucker. "In sports, you work so hard, dream your whole life of playing to get to this point, and when you finally get it it's an unbelievable feeling. I'm just happy to be here."

Tucker is now getting to celebrate with those who were there from the beginning at Chavis Park, the place where at 5 years old, he played his first basketball game.

"I think the biggest thing is just actually achieving my dream," Tucker said. "Doing something that I always said I wanted to do and having so many people doubt you , so many people think you can't and to be able to look at them and see it's possible and I can, means a lot."

It's a celebrations family and friends can share in as well.

"It's everything," said his mom, Aleshia Tucker. "It's everything that he's always wanted since he was a little kid, and the thing he told me he was going to do and he did it. For it to be a full-circle because he's been all around the world and beat the team that brought him back to the NBA for a championship means everything.

WATCH: Full-length interview with PJ Tucker

Full-length interview: Raleigh native and newly minted NBA champion PJ Tucker speaks with ABC11's Bridget Condon

Tucker is well-traveled but there's no place like home.

"It's different," Tucker said. "Honestly, you play in all of these arenas all over the world, but when you come home it's a different feeling. It was good to just be able to say I'm from Raleigh."

The celebration was not only to honor Tucker but for him to be able to show kids in Raleigh that he was once in their shoes and to inspire them to reach for their dreams.

"Growing up here, I didn't have a whole lot of people that I could look up to," he said. "For me, to carry that burden for other kids in Raleigh to show them it's possible, that's everything. That's something I'll cherish for the rest of my life."

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Mom Aleshia agreed.

"He likes to give back," she said of her son. "If he could have one kid say you made a difference in my life, it means a lot to him. That's what he strives for."

Tucker's journey will continue next season in Miami with the Heat. The veteran of 12 NBA seasons sandwiched around a five-year stint with various international clubs said he'll let his body tell him how much longer he has left to play.

"I'm super excited," he said. "It's a great opportunity for me, a new chapter. It's crazy in sports because you win it, and then camp starts in like a month, so it's right back to it."

Tucker said he hopes to make a pair of sneakers to celebrate the championship.

"They're going to be crazy," he said. "Believe that."