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Homeward found: Tim Martin's nomadic journey from homeless father to world-renown basketball trainer

“Definitely came from humble beginnings. The grind is definitely real.”

DALLAS — Stationed 50 yards from Interstate 30 in east Dallas is a private indoor basketball court.

Painted on the exterior wall facing south is a mural of Black cultural icons who have died -- actor Chadwick Boseman, rappers Tupac, Nipsey Hussle and Notorious B.I.G., boxer and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali, singer Aaliyah and basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

On any given day, NBA and college basketball stars will show up to train.

No pomp. No circumstance. Just ball.

The man leading the training sessions is Tim Martin, one of the most respected skills trainers in the basketball community.

"It’s crazy because his work ethic is second to none and I think that’s why we get along so well," praised Philadelphia 76ers rising star Tyrese Maxey.

Maxey has trained with Martin since he was a freshman at South Garland High School.

"We have that type of relationship where it’s family oriented," Maxey added. "I can talk to him about anything.”

It's definitely a family atmosphere.

Snagging rebounds and chatting up the athletes is Tim's son, Christian.

"He's like a little brother, so I just try to take care of him as much as I can,” Maxey smiles, who sometimes serves as temporary babysitter in between drills.

An 11-year-old with nice handles and a streaky jump shot, Christian has grown up in the gym.


When Christian was a 1-year-old, Tim would create a barricade for him on a basketball court so he could play with his toys while Tim trained elementary and middle school kids.

“Definitely came from humble beginnings," Tim reflected. "The grind is definitely real.”

Born in Arlington, Texas, Tim spent most of his childhood traveling around Texas and the southwest with his mother.

"Very nomadic," Tim recollected. "Every time the rent was due, we were moving.”

Dribbling state to state, Tim attended 11 schools over 12 years from elementary through high school.

Basketball was his rock.

"That did feel like home, any time I was on the court," Tim reminisced. "Basketball was always that one thing I could fall back on. It was the one consistent thing for me.”

Tim played high school ball in New Mexico. He received a Division I offer to Pepperdine but had to attend junior college due to poor grades.

His D1 dreams were cut short in JUCO, after blowing out his ankle.

With nowhere to turn, he moved to Dallas and met his father for the first time.

He established a relationship with that side of the family, which was well-connected in the Dallas high school basketball community.

Two of Tim's cousins are Jason and Jeryl Sasser, who starred at Kimball High School before going on to play in the NBA.

Shortly after arriving in Dallas, Tim got back on the court as a trainer.

He helped out as basketball camps for former Mavericks Josh Howard and Devin Harris.

He began training kids of all ages.

Anything to turn an idea into a career.

"It went well for awhile, but when I had my son, that’s kind of when I hit my hardships," Tim explained.

Tim was 23 when Christian was born.

Money was tight. Tim and Christian's mom struggled to make ends meet.

They split up and Tim could not afford a place to live.

"I was homeless for six to seven months," Tim described.

Despite having friends or family he could ask, Tim chose to work his way out of the situation.

"I was very prideful at that time and never wanted to ask anybody for help," Tim admitted. “I’ve always been a type of person, I didn’t want to impose my struggles on anybody.”

For the next seven months, Tim slept in the back seat of his car.

"Just so I wouldn't have the police or anybody looking into my car, I would park in front of houses, if there was an open spot, to make it look like I lived there," Tim explained.

He would wake up at 6 a.m. and drive over to the parking lot of the Farmers Branch Recreation Center.

He would take showers in the locker rooms and shave in the sink.

"And then when I could generate some income from training some of the players, I would rent out a motel room," Tim detailed. "Those would be the days I go and pick Christian up [from his mom's place] and he would stay with me at that little motel."

Eventually, Tim’s car was repossessed.

All he had left was shared custody of his son and two garbage bags of clothes.

"Hitting rock bottom, it can't get any worse," Tim noted. "So, I started turning that feeling more into optimism.”

In his darkest hour, a friend took him in and gave him a place to sleep.

He slept on a "little brown loveseat couch" in an apartment for two years.

"Without that experience, I would never be who I am today," Tim declared.

Over time, Tim grew his bank account and his roster of players to train.

Former Kimball high school star Jawun Evans was the first one to pop.

Evans was named a McDonald's All-American in 2015 and that sparked attention for Tim.

"My name kind of blew up from that aspect, and now I’m here," Tim smiled.

Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young trained a bit with Tim while Trae was a senior in high school in Oklahoma.

NBA Draft prospect Andrew Jones, the inspiring young man from Irving MacArthur High School who starred at Texas while beating a cancer diagnosis, started working with Tim when he was 15.

Brooklyn Nets forward Nic Claxton, Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Washington and dozens of other college stars and NBA pros have shared the hardwood with the man Jones calls a "guru."

“He’s like a Yoda," Jones asserted.

The man who traveled constantly as a kid now travels around the world.

He's trained kids in Cameroon, China and France including Victor Wembanyama -- the potential number one pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

"I’ve always yearned to have stability, to have a home," Tim said. "I had to figure out, what does home really mean to me?"

Tim has found stability, while still traveling and expanding his interests.

He goes to the opera and appreciates art and architecture.

Anything to get away from basketball -- just for a bit.

"What Tim’s doing, I want to do the same," Jones noted. "He’s inspired me to start my own foundation. To train a bunch of kids similar to me.”

Tim has become a role model to some of game’s rising stars.

But most of all, he's continued to be a present father and mentor to the one who’s been there since day one -- his son.

"I don’t take anything for granted at this stage of my life," Tim expressed. "I feel extremely blessed to where I’m kind of like a vessel. I’m being blessed to bless others. And that’s truly what it’s all about.”

Tim Martin is home.

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