"Because the school holds a strong place in my heart," said Irvin, 48, who grew up in Washington Heights and was a basketball star at Julian. "It's part of my foundation."
Irvin, the oldest of hoop icon Mac Irvin's six children, entered Julian's hall of fame on Saturday. He was honored for his basketball resume — he was a standout at Missouri and was Portland's No. 1 pick (22nd overall) in the 1989 NBA draft — and his career as an agent. For the last 14 years, Irvin has worked for Relativity Sports agency and currently holds the title as Vice President of the company's basketball division. His clients include Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Erick Dampier and Melvin Ely.
"He's the one who paved the way for all of us playing basketball," said Irvin's younger brother, Nick, the head basketball coach at Morgan Park High School. "We just took on his lead and followed everything Byron did."
Said Terry in an email to DNAinfo: "Byron's not only my agent but he's a good friend almost like a family member. He is a high-character individual that only wants the best for his clients on and off the court. I've been in the NBA for 17 years and Byron Irvin's one of the best in the business."
Justin Breen says that Irvin considers the induction an honor:
After playing three years in the NBA and a few more in minor leagues and overseas, Irvin became a coach and then worked for two years in the Chicago Board of Trade pits. He then became part of Beverly Hills-based Relativity Sports through his basketball connections and his ability to learn every part of the business.
"When you're making that kind of transition, you have to show people you're more than a basketball player," Irvin said. "You have to show them you can handle the business side, and I've shown people I can do deals and have success."
Irvin's latest success is Terry's one-year deal worth $1.5 million to re-sign with the Houston Rockets. Ely, a Chicago-area product who played 375 games in the NBA, said Irvin "has assisted me on and off the court and has never once given up on me."
"Byron is hands down an amazing mentor and friend," Ely, who has known Irvin since he was a 14-year-old player on Mac Irvin's AAU team, said in an email to DNAinfo. "I remember growing up and taking notice of how influential he was in both the mental and physical condition of students. As a kid it was the coolest thing to look into the stands and see a NBA player watching and cheering us to victory."
Irvin, who lives outside Houston, visits Chicago once a month because most of his family still lives here.
"The city of Chicago is my heart," Irvin said. "It's where I grew up. It's where my family is. It means the world to me. Any time I can come back and do anything for kids or the people here in Chicago, I will do it."
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