NEW YORK (BVM) – Following a dominant senior season at the University of Cincinnati where he was college basketball’s national player of the year, Kenyon Martin seemed like a can’t-miss prospect as he entered the NBA. While he might not have lived up to the expectations the New Jersey Nets had for him after selecting him No. 1 overall in 2000, Martin still enjoyed a successful 15-year run in the NBA.
Since retiring from the league, Martin has stayed involved with pro basketball as a player, coach and media personality. Meanwhile, he has also watched his son follow his footsteps into the league.
Kenyon Martin’s early life, college career
Martin was born in Saginaw, Michigan, but eventually moved to Dallas during his childhood. Throughout his high school career, Martin showed immense athletic talent. That was fully on display in his senior season at Bryan Adams High School where he averaged 19.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 6.4 blocks. After graduating in 1996, Martin was set to play college basketball for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Playing under legendary head coach Bob Huggins, Martin put up modest numbers during his freshman year, but showed his potential in his second season, averaging 9.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks.
After being named All-Conference USA as he led the Bearcats to an impressive 27-6 season as a junior, Martin fully broke out as a senior, averaging 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks. He was named Conference USA Player of the Year, National Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. Despite breaking his leg in the conference tournament as a senior, Martin ended his Bearcats career averaging 11 points. 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks.
Kenyon Martin’s NBA career
Coming off a tremendous season at Cincinnati, Martin was seen as an elite pro prospect and was selected No. 1 overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 2000 NBA Draft. As a rookie, Martin made his presence felt immediately, averaging 12 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as he made the NBA’s All-Rookie Team. However, it was his final three seasons with the Nets that were his best.
Averaging 14.9 and 16.7 points during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons, respectively, while also maintaining his presence as a rim protector, Martin helped lead New Jersey to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances. Despite the Nets taking a step back in 2003-04, Martin had arguably the best season of his NBA career, posting averages of 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks. K-Mart would earn his first and only career All-Star nomination that season.
Following the 2003-04 season, Martin was traded to the upstart Denver Nuggets in a sign-and-trade deal that sent multiple first-round picks to the Nets. The 6-foot-9 power forward continued his All-Star form in his first season with the Nuggets, averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. However, his time in Denver would take a turn from there.
After the 2004-05 season, Martin underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee. The All-Star battled knee tendinitis throughout the following season, missing 26 games. When he returned for the playoffs, Martin was suspended by head coach George Karl after the two got into an argument during the Nuggets’ opening-round playoff series.
Just two games into the 2006-07 season, Martin had microfracture surgery again, this time on his right knee, causing him to miss the remainder of the season. However, Martin would return strong for Denver over the next few years, averaging double-digit scoring figures from 2007-10. He would play one final season in Denver in 2010-11 where he averaged 8.6 points and 6.2 rebounds.
K-Mart then latched on with the Los Angeles Clippers where he played 42 games during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. The following year, Martin reunited with former Nets teammate Jason Kidd as he joined the New York Knicks, playing sparingly in the Big Apple during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
The Cincinnati product ended his NBA career by playing in 11 games with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014-15. In July of 2015, Martin officially announced his retirement from professional basketball, finishing his career with averages of 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks.
Kenyon Martin’s other pro basketball stops
During the NBA lockout in 2011, Martin went to China to join the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. He played with the Flying Tigers briefly before getting back into the NBA once the league resumed play.
After his NBA career ended, Martin joined Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league. He helped lead Trilogy to an undefeated season in 2017, and later became the team’s head coach.
— FS1 (@FS1) July 19, 2017
Kenyon Martin’s earnings, achievements
Shortly after his college career concluded, Martin had his No. 4 retired by the Cincinnati Bearcats. Martin was also named to the Bryan Adams High School Hall of Fame in 2009.
Kenyon Martin’s family
Martin’s first wife was Heather Thompson. After the couple split, the former NBA star got married once again to his current wife, Shakira Watson, in 2016.
Martin has always had good basketball genes within his family. He is the half brother of former Colorado Buffaloes standout Richard Roby, and the cousin of AND1 streetball legend Robert “50” Martin.
However, perhaps the most famous basketball star to come out of Martin’s family other than himself is his son, Kenyon “KJ” Martin Jr. Following his time playing at Sierra Canyon High School, KJ spent a postgraduate year at IMG Academy before declaring for the NBA draft. After being selected 52nd overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2020, KJ was traded to the Houston Rockets just a week later.
The 6-foot-6 forward saw action in 124 games across his first two seasons in the league, averaging around nine points. In 2022-23, KJ has taken a leap forward, averaging double-digit points for a young Rockets squad.
KENYON MARTIN JR. HAMMER 😤 pic.twitter.com/RxOPFIQm5Q
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 19, 2022
Meanwhile, Kenyon Sr.’s younger son, Kamron, is also following in the footsteps of his father and older brother, currently playing at Sierra Canyon.
Kenyon Martin’s post-playing life
Since his time in the NBA, Kenyon Sr. has clearly stayed involved with basketball, whether that has been with the Big3, or watching his sons play. He has continued to mentor KJ as he has made his transition to the NBA, while also making sure he has the best chance to succeed in the league.
Other endeavors for the former NBA All-Star include creating the Neat & Unfiltered podcast, which Kenyon Sr. has co-hosted alongside Jadakiss to talk all things NBA.
— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) May 6, 2021
K-Mart has dipped into the media world further as a journalist as well, producing NBA-related content for basketballnews.com.
Meanwhile, Kenyon Sr. has also been busy promoting various products and apparel from the brand “Everyday Drip.”
Although Kenyon Sr.’s NBA career didn’t quite live up to the expectations of a No. 1 overall pick, his 15 seasons in the league were still highly impressive. Now, he gets to stay close to the game he loves in retirement while also watching the next generation of his family take over the court.