Rex Chapman reflects on being Hornets first draft pick

Hornets prepare for NBA Draft

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Thirty years ago, the Charlotte Hornets made Rex Chapman their first-ever draft pick with the eight pick in the 1988 NBA Draft.

Now, the Hornets are celebrating thirty years of basketball in the Queen City.

"Can't believe somebody trusted me enough to be the first pick," Chapman said. "I was young, really young and immature. I put my name in the draft and I'm so happy that Charlotte was the franchise that ended up drafting me."

On top of the Hornets providing Chapman with an opportunity to play basketball professionally, they gave him an avenue to make friends.

The former shooting guard keeps up with many of his old teammates regularly, including Muggsy Bogues and Hornets television analyst Dell Curry.

Coincidentally, 1988 was also the first year that Curry's son, Stephen, was born. However, Chapman has been around Steph for much longer than his years as a baby.

"Stephen was a sophomore in high school and Dell and I went to watch one of his JV games. He got in in the last six minutes of the game, and then a few years later he was the second-leading scorer in the country," Chapman said.

After Chapman finished playing in the NBA, he battled opioid painkiller addiction for the next 15 years of his life.

Chapman struggled at times, but he's not afraid to talk about the past.

"It was a difficult difficult time," Chapman said. "You can't run from it, I know several times when I was going through things there were several times that random people said things that resonated with me and helped me get a little further away from that tough addiction type thing."

Chapman now works with the state of Kentucky's youth who are battling opioid addiction.

"If I can say something that's going to help somebody, I think that's great," Chapman said. "It keeps me busy and it keeps me honest."

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