Growing up and maturing as a 20-something year old isn’t easy.
At least, for most people who are trying desperately to figure themselves out, it isn’t.
Now, imagine trying to foster that growth in the limelight as a professional athlete.
Every day, your coaches, teammates, and fans praise or criticize your work, while self-analysis prevails.
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has grown up off the court and his game is benefiting every passing day.
The 27-year-old father, who often tweets proud photos of his 'mini-me,' became a husband in the off-season, the catalyst that launched him into adulthood.
"Family is something where you just get that moment and you’re like, ‘hey!’" says the Philadelphia native. "You’ve got to grow up sometime and this summer was a big summer for me."
Lowry is averaging 16.2 points, 7.4 assists and is shooting a team-best 18-for-31 from the three-point range while playing an average of 36.3 minutes per game as a Toronto starter.
Head coach Dwane Casey says Lowry is playing the best basketball he's ever played, but is he surprised?
"No," says Casey. "This is the highest level he's played. I don’t think he’d tell you that, but I think he’s grown into that role of being a leader, he’s matured as a man."
Lowry's off-season wasn't just about life-changing commitments and improving at golf (a game he enjoys and often tweets about), but he put in the time he needed to see success and it's paying off.
"This summer was a big summer for me," says Lowry. "I got a chance to work as hard as I wanted to. I got a chance to relax my mind and clear it, and it seems to be working."
Lowry is one of the players who has stepped up since the Rudy Gay trade December 9, 2013 and he's spoken on numerous occasions about the initiative his teammates have taken, producing a 14-6 record since the transaction.
The guard scored a season-high six three-pointers against the Minnesota Timberwolves, a couple of which ignited the crowd when he hit the shot from way beyond the line.
Fatherhood and being a husband has matured Lowry, which Coach Casey says is one of the biggest factors that he has grown into a positive leader.
"He’s doing all the right things and those were the only question marks with Kyle as far as the coaches were concerned," says Casey.
"He’s been a great in his growth pattern right now. He’s grown up and I’m going to keep preaching for him to have all-star consideration."