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Black in Halifax: Lindell Wigginton, with laser focus, is close to reaching his NBA dream

He’s come a long way from Dartmouth. And while his sights are still set on the pros, Lindell Wigginton is staying level headed.

Dartmouth native Lindell Wigginton, left, is a freshman at Iowa State University.

Charlie Neibergall / AP

Dartmouth native Lindell Wigginton, left, is a freshman at Iowa State University.

His brother's passion continues to power Lindell Wigginton, even from the grave.

Tyson James Bundy was so driven to help his brother chase his dream of making the NBA that he would constantly practice with him in courts around Dartmouth.

When Bundy died in a car accident in 2011, Lindell was devastated. He had lost his brother, who went by the nickname Fern, at just 19 years old. But it also sharpened Lindell's focus.

“When he died, I knew I had to do it for him. That’s what I put my all into,” said Lindell.

Chatting with Lindell from Iowa State University, where he is beginning his college career, the player is very clear about his roots. He came from a basketball family: His father, four brothers and sister all play.

His dad, Flemming Downey, introduced him to the game to keep him off the streets and out of trouble. It quickly became a way for Lindell to connect with his brothers.

“It’s how I fell in love with the game; just watching them play made me want to play,” Lindell explained.

After a standout year at Prince Andrew High School, Wigginton was tapped to attend Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, one of the more revered basketball prep schools in America. Some of its alumni include NBA most valuable player Kevin Durant, college standout Carmelo Anthony and Jerry Stackhouse, who now coaches with the Toronto Raptors’ minor league team.

Lindell Wigginton won a silver medal-winning at the under-18 world championships in 2016 and  a gold medal at the under-19 world championships this past July — Canada’s best ever result at an international tournament.

Contributed

Lindell Wigginton won a silver medal-winning at the under-18 world championships in 2016 and a gold medal at the under-19 world championships this past July — Canada’s best ever result at an international tournament.

While his whole family taught him a lot about basketball, it was Fern’s death that taught him what he could endure.

“Nothing is going to be hard to the point where it was that hard. That was the hardest situation ever,” said Lindell. “I don’t feel like any situation now is hard. I don’t feel no pressure on me for anything.

“I know what I got to go do it for it, who wants me in the best situation. I just got to go get it, everyday.”

And he has been getting it. He was a part of a silver medal-winning run at the under-18 world championships in 2016 and had a vital role in a gold medal run at the under-19 world championships this past July — Canada’s best ever result at an international tournament.

He’s come a long way from Dartmouth. And while his sights are still set on the pros, Lindell is staying level headed and not bowing to high expectations laid upon past basketball prodigies.

“I’m just trying to be me; that’s all I came here to do,” he said. “Hopefully, from doing that, it’ll take me to higher stages in life.”

This story is part of Metro's ongoing Black in Halifax series. Let us know your thoughts on the series, and share your own stories using the hashtag #HalifaxWhileBlack with tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook comments. We may just share it in a future edition.

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