2012 was a trying year for Todd Mayo, to say the least. In the second half of his freshman season his averages decreased to 6.7 points per game and he shot just 41.2 percent from the field, down from 42.6 in 2011. His 3-point numbers also took a hit post-New Year’s Eve. Buzz Williams then sent Mayo home during summer workouts to better appreciate his scholarship, and days before the Golden Eagles traveled to South Carolina to play Ohio State in their season opener he was ruled academically ineligible.
The now-22-year-old shooting guard surely was glad to see the calendar turn over to 2013, but he didn’t get there on his own. By his own account, he had many friends in his corner: his teammates contacted him daily, his friends helped him work out and his mother and father, Alisha and Todd, did all they could to put him on the right track.
Yet the one name that kept appearing in Mayo’s comments to Paint Touches and the rest of the media was his brother, O.J., who agreed to last week and signed today a contract with the Milwaukee Bucks.
When Todd was suspended in the summer he continued to work out with O.J., who at the time was a free agent (he ultimately signed a two-year deal with Dallas, including a player option for Year 2). Todd said O.J. put him through the equivalent of Big East practices, and the pair played one-on-one games, all of which were won by the elder half-brother. In the middle of their workouts the duo traveled to South Africa to clear their minds and re-focus on the upcoming year. Todd said O.J. told him to figure out what was important to him and to act on it.
The academic suspension ensued, and after his first game back Todd revealed to Paint Touches that he had a tattoo inscribed on his left forearm in honor of his brother. It read as follows:
“He shares the same dreams and visions, stands by each other in the strongest winds with no fear. He is my brother. You can count on his friendship, strength and loyalty. He believes his actions speak for himself. He is my friend.”
And now that he’ll reside in Milwaukee, same as Todd, playing out a $24 million contract the next three seasons, O.J. will have his chance to again give “friendship, strength and loyalty” to his little brother.
Anonymous Eagle wrote Monday on O.J.’s history — reports that he had accepted thousands of dollars, clothes and other benefits during his high school and collegiate career. As AE pointed out, O.J. was never found of anything guilty but USC vacating all its wins from his one season and receiving a postseason ban in 2009-’10 is pretty damning evidence.
Still, people mature with time, something Todd can attest to as well. In 2011 O.J. was suspended 10 games for violating the NBA’s drug policy, and he was involved in a fight with a teammate earlier in the year. But by all accounts his record has been clean since. He grew up, just like he’s attempting to help his brother do.
The pair will have time to spend together in the summer, but when the season begins the pair will be on tight schedules, traveling to different cities and, for Todd, attending classes when not in the Al McGuire Center or on home gamedays.
Brothers can get into mischief — I know, I’ve got three of them — but there’s a reasonable belief that O.J. will have a positive influence on his brother. When things get tough for Todd this season, and it will, his brother will be a simple car ride or walk away, rather than a phone call. Little changes can make all the difference.
Consider, too, that O.J. understands everything Todd has gone through. Everything. True, O.J. wasn’t going to base his free-agency decision off where Todd was, but he’s also not coming to town to mess with all his little brother has worked to build up, notably getting back in the good graces of his head coach and teammates.
Chris Otule told Paint Touches last week that Todd’s maturity has “really improved” from last season, and that “he’s one of those guys that just loves basketball.” Otule also noted “we really need him on this team.”
Chances are O.J. also knows everything Otule said, and he won’t do anything to tamper with it.