Born: January 20, 1965
Town: Jersey City
David Lee Rivers was born January 20, 1965 in Jersey City. He was the 13th of 15 children born to Mamie and Willie Rivers. He grew up in the dangerous Marion Gardens projects, where his brother and idol, Willie Jr. was murdered. The incident led to the family moving to a safer neighborhood, and for David to do whatever it took to stay out of trouble and find a way out.
A wiry athlete with extraordinary quickness and creativity, he developed his graceful game on the city’s playgrounds and became a star for Bob Hurley at St. Anthony’s in the early 1980s. He mopped church floors and took odd jobs to help pay the tuition.
Heavily recruited, David accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame and became the starting point guard in his freshman year. He was durable and productive during his four years with the Fighting Irish. He averaged over 15 points per game his first three seasons and boosted that number to 22.0 in 1987–88, his senior year. David was a Third-Team All-American as a junior and Second-Team as a senior. He graduated with 2,058 points—fourth in school history—and 201 steals, which is second all-time.
David accomplished all this despite coming close to death in the summer between his sophomore and junior seasons. He was thrown through the windshield of a car teammate Ken Barlow was driving and suffered a 15-inch gash in his abdomen that forced him to hold his own intestines in while he waited for help to arrive.
Pro scouts questioned whether his size and skills would translate to the NBA. he was taken in the first round of the 1988 draft by the Lakers. Playing behind Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and Byron Scott, he saw action in 47 games. David played in three games during the NBA Finals, which the Lakers lost to the Pistons in four straight. David figured to get more playing time the following season, when he was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the expansion draft. He failed to make the roster and hooked on with the Clippers and played in 52 games.
David played part of the 1991–92 season with the Clippers, but the rest of his basketball career was spent primarily in European leagues. From 1995 to 1997, he led Olympiacos to the Greek league championship. In 1996–1997, the team won the Euroleague title. The 1997–98 season found David playing with Dominique Wilkins for the Italian club TeamSystem Bologna. His next stop was Tofas Bursa in Turkey, where he won a pair of league championships. David finished his career back in Greece at the age of 36.