Mayo brothers happy to be reunited in Milwaukee
OCT 24, 2013 4:37p ET
Todd Mayo was about to enter his sophomore season at Marquette when he had to sit in his coach's office and call his family to tell them he was academically ineligible. So many questions were running through his head.
Will I ever play Division I basketball again? What is going to happen to me without basketball?
All of his thoughts were things his older brother could have helped him with, but O.J. was thousands of miles away focused on getting traction with his new team, the Dallas Mavericks. Sure, phone calls were made, but in-person moral support would have been the best remedy.
A year later, the Mayo brothers shared yet another important phone call. This time O.J. did the dialing and picked up on a much different emotion when he told his brother he was signing a three-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. The two were going to be together in the same city again.
"I could hear him grinning through the phone," O.J. Mayo said. "It's all love, but at the end of the day I'm representing the Milwaukee Bucks organization and he's representing the Marquette institution. We both have the same last name representing our family and what we stand for. It's all about coming out, working hard and trying to be successful."
Alisha Mayo has spent the past two years trying to balance her job in Memphis with trying to catch as many of O.J. and Todd's games as she could. Both of her sons now call the BMO Harris Bradley Center home, making their mother's life a whole lot easier.
Todd had figured out O.J.'s time in Dallas was going to be short lived before the NBA season even ended. He figured brash Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was going to look to make major changes after his team missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons.
He knew his brother had to take care of himself professionally but also knew early on there was a real possibility Milwaukee could be his landing spot in free agency.
"When they said they were going to give him a job here, for me it was breathtaking," Todd Mayo said. "I was just like 'Man, thank you.' My family has been all spread out. My sister is in Ohio right now, she's doing what she's doing. My mom is in Memphis, my brother was in Dallas. We all were doing what we were supposed to be doing right now.
"For O.J. to come to Milwaukee, I knew it was going to bring all of us together. One thing I said to him was 'You came to Milwaukee for a reason.' I think that's for us to be together because our family has been spread out for five or six years."
Shortly after the ink was dry on O.J.'s contract with the Bucks, Todd came to the realization of how special of a time the next two years will be for his family. He also knows it will be short lived, as he'll leave Marquette in two years looking for the next step in his professional life.
The family has been separated for quite some time, as O.J. bounced around the country to different schools and began his high school career as a seventh grader. O.J. averaged 23.1 points per game as a seventh grader playing varsity basketball in Kentucky and was first-team all-state by his eighth grade year. He played three seasons of high school basketball in Ohio before finishing up at Huntington High School in West Virginia.
Todd's prep career began in Ohio, continued in Tennessee and ended at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts. Settling down in one city for a couple of years is something both brothers are thankful for.
"I just want to appreciate this moment, appreciate my junior year, appreciate my senior year when it approaches me and just appreciate having my family here," Todd Mayo said. "O.J. has a three-year deal, it couldn't get any better than this. I'm just going to take it day by day, work hard, don't get distracted of my goals and what we have to do as a Marquette player and a student athlete. I'm going to seek the moment, but as I'm seeking the moment I'm still going to handle business."
While O.J. has a great opportunity to become an NBA team's go-to scorer, Todd faces a critical junior season. He regained academic eligibility in late December but saw an inconsistent role disappear late in the season.
After playing 21.1 minutes per game as a freshman, Todd averaged just 14.1 minutes per game last year. His scoring average dropped from 7.9 to 5.3, while his shooting percentage dipped from 41.9 percent to 35.6 percent.
"That was another punch that he didn't see coming," O.J. Mayo said. "I think that woke him up and made him realize he needed to handle his business. He realized he had to stay around, get some work in, focus on his books and be a 100 percent college athlete."
Unlike previous years, Todd stayed at Marquette this past summer. Marquette has a vacancy at the starting shooting guard spot with Vander Blue declaring early for the draft, and he knew he had to do all he could to put himself in position to seize the opportunity.
A knee injury sidelined him for a good portion of the summer, but Todd feels staying in Milwaukee with his teammates was well worth it.
"I felt like I definitely got better and picked up on a lot of things," Todd Mayo said of what he gained during the summer. "I picked up a lot of relationships with my teammates. I just felt left out and I didn't know what I was really missing until I went through it. I felt going through this summer really helped me.
"There's definitely an opportunity on the table. I can only control what's going to happen today and tomorrow leading up to the time where taking advantage of the opportunity comes."
Seemingly more focused now than ever before, Todd has a chip on his shoulder. But so does his brother. O.J. quickly went from franchise player to looking for work and is taking his chance with the Bucks very seriously. They each have their own business to take care of individually, but together the brothers give each other a strong support system.
Unlike in years past, a text message can turn into grabbing a bite to eat or a visit from Todd to O.J.'s house.
"I think it would help any player," Todd Mayo said. "You are just working and moving and becoming a man not being around your family and not talking to your family. For them to be in that city when you are growing as a man and to be around your family definitely helps.
"Some people are going to love you if you have a good game and some people are going to hate you if you have a bad game. Just knowing that my brother is in town, he's going to tell me what's up. He's going to tell me if I had a good game, he's going to tell me if I had a bad game, he's going to tell me what I should do better. He's going to just basically keep it real with me."
It's a support system O.J. wishes he had during his one season at the University of Southern California. Like many college students, O.J. had to grow up quickly with his family many miles away.
"I think it's an automatic comfort level knowing 15 minutes away he has a family member," O.J. Mayo said. "I remember when I went to college at USC, I didn't have anyone for 3,500 miles. Anytime you have someone you can call when you just want to get off campus or get out of your dorm room and play a video game or talk about something other than basketball and school, I think it's always a plus being a student-athlete.
"As long as you know you have that support in the back of your mind, it's already a comfort level. He can come over whenever and chill, kind of kick his feet up and get out from under the supervision feeling of being a student athlete. That's all good."
While Todd has already taken advantage of O.J.'s standing offer to come over and hang out, big brother is going to set some rules so he's not a distraction.
"He has to handle his business, too," O.J Mayo said. "If he has a 6, 7 or 8 o'clock practice, I don't think it would be a good idea to crash at my house. I don't want to get up to take him to practice.
"We all get anxious to get out there and show what we can do, but it's all about winning games whether you are at the college level or in the NBA. We can hold arms, hold hands and go eat dinner and lunch, but at the end of the day we have to handle our business on our separate avenues."
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