“It feels pretty good,” says George Hill with a smile when asked how he feels as the announcer at the Pacers’ game refers to him as “our hometown hero, George Hill!”
He should feel good and he is a hometown hero!
Hill grew up in Broad Ripple, attended Broad Ripple High School where he was a standout player, then went on to play for IUPUI. Except for a brief time with the San Antonio Spurs (2008-2011), Hill spent his career in central Indiana — rare for an NBA player to stay in his hometown.
Hill always wanted to stay near his ailing great-grandfather, who died shortly after Hill verbally agreed to attend IUPUI. He knew he could move on, but his great-grandfather had always taught him to be a man of his word, and Hill stayed and went on to have a great career at IUPUI.
I met up with Hill just days after he had the best game of his NBA career — scoring a career-high 37 points against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Although on top of his game, so to speak, Hill is a humble guy and thankful for how far he has come from being the young boy growing up in Broad Ripple looking up to players such as Michael Jordan.
“I didn’t have a lot growing up,” says Hill. I had obstacles to overcome, but I made it.”
“I just feel blessed.”
He was a determined boy, though, as Co-Athletic Director Jim Sherrill of St. Richard’s Episcopal School will tell you. “I would see this little boy hop the fence and shoot hoops here at St. Richard’s,” says Sherrill. “Who would have thought he would go on to be a Pacer? I knew he would be successful, but not to this level!”
Today Hill has a home on the water in Geist, with his girlfriend, Samantha Garcia, and his two dogs — goldendoodles named Brodie and Bailey. He loves fishing, boating, listening to music, watching movies and the occasional glass of wine — moscato or Riesling.
His dream vacation? “I want to go to Bora Bora and stay in those little gazebos out in the ocean,” laughs Hill.
Hill’s fellow teammates and buddies Paul George and Luis Scola live nearby, and they are already planning some summer get-togethers on the lake.
And speaking of summer, Hill will tell you he much prefers warm weather over cold. He doesn’t mind sleeping in a cool room at night, but that’s it!
Talking about cold also reminds Hill of when he had to jump in the cold Geist lake to save his buddy Paul George’s dog!
“The dog tried to jump on my boat but missed — I saw him, so I knew I had to go in,” laughs Hill, who says he’s still mad at his buddy George for that one.
On this particular game day, Hill takes me through his typical game day routine: a couple strawberry-banana smoothies, some Boston Market chicken and maybe a nap if he’s lucky!
As we were wrapping up our conversation and taking pictures, my 19-year-old daughter, Nicolette, a budding journalist, yells, “By the way George, your girlfriend is beautiful!” While some chuckled, Hill thought for a moment and then politely answered, “Why, thank you. We are very happy. I think she’s the one.”
Did my daughter just get a scoop? Could that trip to Bora Bora be a honeymoon?
Well, nobody knows for sure, but we do know that we all hope that that our hometown hero, George Hill, sticks around on the court and near his home for seasons to come!