NBA champ Andrew Bogut: ‘I grew up in Australia but was raised Croatian’
- by croatiaweek
- in Sport
There have been a number of Australian-born Croatians who have made a big impact in sports over the years. The likes of Mark Viduka, Josip Šimunić, Simon Katich and Nicola McDermott to name a few.
But without a doubt, the biggest person to make an impact in basketball from the community is Andrew Bogut, who was the latest guest on the latest All Things Croatia podcast.
Andrew was born in Melbourne in 1984 to parents who had migrated to Australia from Croatia in the 1970s.
“My mother is from Karlovac, and my dad is from Osijek,” Bogut says, before adding.
“The heritage thing I always tell people is that I grew up in Australia, and I was born in Australia, but I was raised Croatian. In our home was basically Croatia, Croatian music, Croatian food, items on the wall, art, and language, and outside of it was Australia.”
Andrew, who learned the Croatian language and about customs at home growing up, says that made the transition easy when he finally did visit Croatia.
“I consider myself both (Croatian and Australian). A lot of ideals and hardheadedness come from my Croatian side, and I think that is a good thing at times, and I am also proud of the fact that Australia has provided a lot for myself and my family.”
After dabbling in gymnastics, taekwondo, and Aussie Rules as a kid, Andrew first started playing basketball as a 9-year-old.
“My father was a mechanic, and there was a hoop drilled into the wall outside his workshop, which the shop used to hang car parts to dry, and that was the first hoop I started throwing a ball through,” he recalls.
Andrew rose through the ranks in Australia, culminating in him leading Australia to the U-19 World Cup title and winning the MVP at the tournament.
Andrew headed off to the US to play college basketball at Utah before being the first pick in the 2005 NBA Draft when he was picked up by the Milwaukee Bucks.
After 7 years with the Bucks, Andrew went to the Golden State Warriors before playing also for the Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers and the LA Lakers. In 2011, he was the blocks leader, but the highlight of his NBA career came in 2015 when he won a ring with the Golden State Warriors.
Andrew says one of his idols growing up was Bulls legend Toni Kukoč, and it was a surreal moment when he got to play with him years later.
“It was a crazy, surreal moment. In my rookie year with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toni was playing with them at the time. Literally, there is a photo from 2003, when I visited Croatia for the first time after we won the World Junior Champs with Australia in Greece, at Dražen Petrović’s grave, I am wearing the No.7 Kukoč Milwaukee Bucks jersey, this is even before I was drafted. Two years later I was drafted by them and ended up playing with Toni,” he recalls.
On the podcast Andrew talks more in detail about growing up with Croatian parents in Australia, his career in the US, and what he is up to today. You can watch the full podcast below.