OLD TAPPAN, N.J. -- Happy birthday to Kenyon Martin, a 15-year veteran of the NBA, who lived in Closter and Old Tappan while playing for the New Jersey Nets. Martin is turning 39 this Friday, Dec. 30.
Martin was born in Michigan and raised in Dallas, graduating from Bryan Adams High School in 1996. The school inducted him into its hall of fame in 2009.
He was recruited to the University of Cincinnati and excelled there, as well. Among other honors, he was named the consensus National Player of the Year as a senior. He graduated with a degree in criminal justice -- and was the first overall pick in the 2000 NBA draft, by the New Jersey Nets.
Martin spent four years with the Nets, then was traded to the Denver Nuggets, for three later first-round draft picks. He was with that team for seven years. He was an unrestricted free agent in 2011, just in time for the 2011 lockout.
So he signed a one-year deal with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, in the Chinese Basketball Association. He was allowed to exit early, though, following the end of the lockout, and he played a partial season for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Martin then spent two seasons with the New York Knicks and one with the Milwaukee Bucks. He retired in summer 2015.
He's been very involved with philanthropy over the years, especially with causes relevant to his early years -- single-parent families, families without a father figure, stuttering and more.