Personal life

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“From the day he was born in Šibenik hospital he stood out from other kids because of his size (4750 g and 54 cm). You could immediately see he was special. He faced first problems even before he learned how to walk. Due to hip problems he had to move using an accessory he was tied with belts to. Instead of being sad he was playing with those belts and that’s how he learned to cope with problems with a positive attitude from the early days.

Even when he was a child I felt like he was not only mine. While we were walking through streets of Šibenik everyone wanted to hold his hand and talk to him. He had a special glow in his eyes. He was always very calm and silent but he did a lot of thinking. In the company of his friends he was never the loud one, but because of his deliberate statements, they would always follow him.

Older brother Aco was his role model from early days. He was the reason Dražen left guitar lessons for basketball. In fact, he never liked playing guitar. He would go on classes with a broken string so professor had to spend the time fixing it while Dražen would go out and play. He always preferred to spend his days on the playground. Once he said that he would maybe play football or water polo if Aco had chosen one of those. With his brother he also liked to do mischiefs. When Aco was sent to buy the groceries he sometimes kept the change to himself. Aco was staring in surprise when his younger brother asked him for the half of the money so he doesn’t tell on him. In the end they shared the money and Dražen was happy that they were in it together. In 1979 Aco went to Zagreb to play for Cibona and that was big part of the reason Dražen decided to join the club five years later.

When he grew up to become a star he stayed simple. He liked to put a smile on other people faces and would do so through his virtuoso playstyle on the field as well as being empathetic about everyone’s private problems and talking about them off the field, whenever he had a chance. He could never be completely happy if everyone around him wasn’t happy. He said by giving people attention he could make them smile and that is his greatest award. He didn’t care about money. In his famous statement he said that no matter how much money you have you can only sleep in one bed and eat one lunch. He was always motivated by competitive reasons. Wanted to finish law school and be the best player of the world. Even when he became European and World champion and one of the best NBA players it didn’t stop him from working harder every day.”

– Biserka Petrović