With their first-ever draft selection in franchise history in 1988, the Charlotte Hornets picked Rex Chapman eighth overall out of the University of Kentucky. That same season, in the expansion draft, the Hornets acquired two-year NBA veteran Dell Curry from the Utah Jazz.
Chapman and Curry became neighbors in their first year in Charlotte, and from there a strong friendship blossomed. That same year, something else really significant occurred.
"Stephen was born my rookie year," Chapman explained on the "Runnin' Plays" podcast. "They lived two doors down and Sonya and Dell used to bring Stephen over to my place, leave him with me for a couple hours while they'd go to a movie. I was 19 and was just hoping he wouldn't poop in his pants so I had to change a diaper."
Chapman is full of funny stories from Steph's infant years, and he always is happy to share them.
"I remember when Stephen was just learning to talk, and I went to go pick up Dell for practice one day, and Stephen just came out of the house just crying and crying, and Dell said 'I got to go to practice Stephen,' and [Steph] said, 'You got to go to practice again, daddy?', like 'How much with this practice stuff?' " Chapman recalled laughing.
Chapman and Curry also lived in the same apartment complex as their famously short teammate Muggsy Bogues. The three of them did almost everything together. And many times, that included baby Steph.
"There were several times that, we would go to ball games, and since I was a rookie I was always in the backseat of the car. Dell's usually driving, and we had a car seat, which Muggsy [Bogues] should have been in, but he was sitting up front. And then we had Stephen in the car, in the car seat. We all thought we were pretty good, and the baby was better than us the whole time," Chapman said while chuckling.
"Little did we know. We thought we were hot stuff, and he was just chilling in the backseat biding his time."
The bond between Rex and Dell became a whole family affair. In fact, Dell's wife Sonya became a key figure in the friendship.
"Sonya was basically raising me and Steph at the same time," Chapman recalled.
"I remember, I didn't know how to do laundry and I'm a rookie, and she came over to my place, we had been on the road for like two weeks. And Dell apparently told Sonya to come down to my apartment and just look inside. So she came in ... and I didn't know how to do laundry, so on the road I just bought like 60 new pairs of underwear, and I was just wearing underwear brand new."
"She had to wash like 50 pairs of underwear."