Trey Mourning Finds Professional Experience Among Extended Family with Miami Heat
LAS VEGAS -- Trey Mourning need only glance at his phone to find his fondest NBA memory. His screen saver is a photo of himself celebrating in the locker room after the Miami Heat beat the Detroit Pistons in Game 6 of the 2006 Eastern Conference finals to secure the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals.
Among the other revelers? His father, Alonzo Mourning, who went on to win a championship with Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and the Heat that year.
“It's weird because I don't really remember the actual experiences,” Trey tells CloseUp360 during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. “I don't have any takeaways from that. I just remember being with my dad and being really happy.”
It may be just as well, then, that 10-year-old Alonzo III didn’t make it to Dallas to celebrate with his dad when the Heat took down the Mavericks in Game 6 of the 2006 Finals on the road.
Nowadays, Trey is more concerned with creating his own legacy, albeit while following quite closely in his father’s footsteps. After five years spent wearing his dad’s jersey number (33) at his dad’s alma mater (Georgetown), he’s hoping to latch on with the team (the Heat) for which Alonzo II once starred on the court and has been their vice president of player programs for more than 10 seasons.
All of this, while growing into a spitting image of Zo, with the same stoic demeanor that carried his dad through 15 NBA seasons.
“Winning is arguably the most important thing to both of us,” Trey says. “At the same time, we have very different goals and are very different people.”
Trey (right) is the oldest of Alonzo Mourning's three kids. (Vallery Jean/FilmMagic)
For all that Zo and Trey share as father and son, they come from almost entirely different worlds.
The former found his way to basketball in Chesapeake, Virginia, as a way to stay out of trouble after his parents divorced and he was sent to live with a family friend named Fannie Threet. The latter, meanwhile, was quite literally born into a hoops utopia, with a father who would go on to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
From a young age, Trey attended his dad’s games and made cameos in the locker room. The year after the Heat won their first title, he got his first job with the team: as a ball boy. He couldn’t help but keep a close connection to basketball, though he did develop a love for another sport: soccer, with A.C. Milan as his favorite team and Cristiano Ronaldo his favorite player.
Just as Trey became a familiar face around the basketball world, so too did the sport’s luminaries become regulars in his. Patrick Ewing, now Georgetown's head coach, was his “uncle.” Heat president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra were family. Every August, they and others would come to the Mourning house in Miami's Pinecrest neighborhood to celebrate Trey’s birthday. And he, in turn, would accompany his parents to their houses for parties with their kids.
“I grew up in the arena. I grew up around the staff,” Trey says. “These are people who I'm on a first-name basis with, and they’ve been there.”
Along the way, Trey saw first-hand what it took for his dad to not only star in the NBA, but also stay in the league following a kidney transplant in 2003.
“You have to prove yourself every single day,” Trey says. “There's so many people in the world who want this job—not just in the United States. So there's always somebody that wants your spot. It's one of the only professions in which somebody's always gunning for you. If you're hurt or something, somebody else is gonna take your spot.”
With that knowledge in hand, Trey managed to flip the script following his own brush with injury. He missed his entire senior season with the Hoyas following hip surgery in the summer of 2017, but returned as a graduate student for what turned out to be, by far, his most impactful collegiate campaign on the court. While working towards a master’s in sports management, he became a regular rotation player for Uncle Patrick at Georgetown, logging 11 starts and averaging 17.7 minutes per game overall, with 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds.
That uptick helped Trey get looks with the Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards and Heat. It certainly didn’t hurt that, at 6’9”, he stood nearly as tall as his dad, albeit with more of a skill game compared to Zo’s distinctly physical approach to basketball.
Nor could anyone quibble with Trey’s personality. A self-described “big people person,” he’s immersed himself in the study of other languages and cultures since he was a teenager, and is also fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. He can also speak some French, and had hoped to test his Greek with Wizards owner Ted Leonsis following a pre-draft workout in Washington.
“Not a lot of opportunities to speak Greek,” Trey says. “Maybe playing against Giannis [Antetokounmpo]. I have some words to tell him. Maybe not the nicest words I learned, but I can talk to him a bit.”
Before Trey can start planning what he’ll say to Giannis, he’ll have to catch on with an NBA team. That may be a tall order, given the role he just played for the Heat’s Summer League team.
Being the son of a franchise legend (if not of the entire organization) didn’t guarantee Trey more than the 9.0 minutes per game he averaged over his four appearances—nor would he have expected who his dad is to make a difference here.
“Both him and I understand that there's a boundary that we shouldn't cross,” Trey says, “and when it's time to do stuff related to basketball, it's all about business and getting the job done.”
It’s a different situation for Trey, to be sure, and not just with his dad. Where once he could look to the likes of Riles and Spo purely as part of his family’s inner circle, he’s now learned to look at them as potential co-workers and superiors in addition to what they’ve always been to him.
“It's definitely more of a professional experience,” Trey says. “At the same time, it's family and I'm extremely comfortable around this organization, around these people.”
In truth, Trey may have to leave the comfort zone of the Heat in particular and the NBA in general in order to pursue his passion for playing professionally. If basketball does take him overseas, he may well have a chance to put his love of foreign languages—be they the ones in which he’s fluent or others he’d look to strengthen—and his appreciation of soccer to even greater use.
Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.