Ryan Anderson has had a clear upward trajectory for most of his career. Everything seemed to go right for the young power forward.
After an average rookie year in New Jersey, he found the perfect fit with Dwight Howard and Orlando's shot-happy 3-point shooting offense. He parlayed it in to the NBA's Most Improved Player Award in 2011 and turned into one of the most efficient scorers in the league. He averaged 16.1 points per game and shot 39.3 percent from beyond the arc his final year in Orlando.
It helped him earn a four-year $34 million deal from the then-Hornets which the Magic could not match with the direction the team was going. And Anderson showed no signs of letting up, averaging 16.2 points per game and shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc.
Anderson's world was somewhat shattered this summer. It is hard to know how a 25 year old is supposed to deal with a death to a loved one, particularly when they have to be in the spotlight.
Mere days after attending the wedding of a good NBA friend, with former and current teammates joining him in attendance, his girlfriend Gia Allemand, a former contestant on the Bachelorette, committed suicide. It left Anderson, his family, Allemand's family and many many others mourning and asking questions that no one will ever be able to answer.
Anderson is normally a gregarious guy. Just a genuinely nice guy. With the Magic he was always quick to cut a joke with the media in the locker room. He would happily showcase his talent of catching grapes with his mouth from just about anywhere with Magic TV personalities.
It takes a lot to get this guy down. And he continues to persevere and see the positive in life because that is simply who he is.
Last week, when the Pelicans opened training camp, he addressed his girlfriend's death publicly for the first time and delivered an emotional message:
Anderson thanked his teammates, both current and former, for their support and spoke of the good that he and Allamand's friends can make out of this tragedy.
Again, Anderson always found the positive in things.
He certainly will be playing this season with a very heavy heart.