For more than four seasons, Christian Garrett has been a mostly anonymous walk-on at Kansas. This is somewhat ironic, of course, because Garrett, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, might have the most interesting family background in the program.
His mother, Cynthia, is a professional actress and former television host on VH1. Cynthia’s step-brother is rock star Lenny Kravitz. And Garrett has two cousins (Mike Garrett and Chris Chambliss) who made careers in professional sports.
“My life has been really unique, just because I’ve gotten to see every spectrum — every end,” Garrett said on Monday. “Me and my mom, we’ve lived really, really poor. And we’ve lived really, really well. I’ve gotten to meet some really cool people and be around some really cool people, and I’ve gotten to go home to my family and they don’t live in the nicest neighborhoods. It’s been really cool for me to be able to experience that from a young age, all kinds of worlds.”
Garrett, a native of Los Angeles, arrived at Kansas as a walk-on midway through the 2010-11 season. Garrett, who attended IMG Academy in Florida, was high school teammates with KU big man target DeAndre Daniels, a top-10 recruit who eventually chose UConn and helped the Huskies win an NCAA title last season.
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Kansas hoped to land both, but Garrett stuck in the KU program as a walk-on, growing into what Kansas coach Bill Self calls the program’s “spiritual leader.”
“He’s a great kid,” Self said, “just like a lot of other guys that have been through here and paid their dues.”
On senior night at Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday against West Virginia, Garrett will make his first career start. On Monday, Garrett met with reporters to talk about his time at Kansas. Here are the highlights, edited for clarity:
Question: How did the experience of playing at Kansas meet your expectations?
Garrett: “(When I was younger) somebody asked me: ‘What do I want in a college I go to?’ And I wasn’t even really thinking; I just said: ‘A school with a lot of tradition, a school that has a chance to win a national championship, and … a big university. And I said that, and I never thought about it for the rest of my high school career, and I’m at exactly the school I said. It’s just been incredible.”
Q: Is the experience as big-time as you thought it would be?
Garrett: “I remember when I first got here, I came straight from high school. And then the next day, I’m here. It was a lot at first for sure. …
“There’s nothing like being here. And I have friends that play at other universities and other colleges that I played with growing up, and we all talk, and nothing compares to here. Just to the amount of work we put in, down to the support, down to how we do things here, it’s just another level.
Q: So how long is your senior-night speech?
Garrett: “Actually, I wrote it last night. I already know what I’m gonna say. It’s not that long. I’m not going to force it on people, but I’m excited for it. I’ve definitely always thought about this day, how cool it’s going to be. And it just came a lot faster than I thought.
Q: What will be some favorite memories you’ll take with you?
Garrett: “Going to the Final Four freshman year, that was crazy. That team, too, was just a great team. But specifically, I think just every single person on this team, every single coach who you meet, these relationships will last a lifetime.”