BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- As De'Andre Hunter heard his name called in the 2019 NBA Draft, he took a moment to celebrate with his mother, his three siblings and Coach Tony Bennett, but he brought a part of his family on stage with him.
“My dad passed away when I was in first grade," Hunter said, "So I just want him to be here with me, I want him to get drafted with me and he’s seeing everything I’m seeing right now, he’s right here with me."
Along with his JC Penny suit, Hunter wore a simple necklace with a picture of his dad, Aaron, and De'Andre from when he was just eight months old. The Atlanta Hawks fourth overall pick could only smile Thursday night thinking about what his dad and him have seen.
"Especially going through this process, going through the tournament, winning the championship," Hunter said, "I knew he would have been really happy for everything that I’ve done.”
Throughout De'Andre's childhood, he was raised by his mother, Priscilla, and his older brother, Aaron Jr. When asked about his mother, Hunter said she was like "a mom and a dad."
"She did everything for me, no matter what it was, Hunter said, "She used to take me to school every morning, 45 minutes away. So she will do anything for me, she will do anything for anyone in my family, so I can't thank her enough, without her I wouldn't be nowhere near here."
NBA Draft night was never a dream for De'Andre and his dad, with Hunter saying his dad was more focused on school.
"I was a bad kid actually, he used to get on me for being bad in school," Hunter said, "I started playing, but he was really tough on me and I was like I don’t even want to play."
But all these years later, Hunter knows he was not alone on the NBA Draft stage.
"But I know he’s here, he’s smiling down on me," Hunter said, "I’m just happy he was here with me.