New Yorker reflects on how basketball career catapulted him into the spotlight

TJ Stukes and his wife are now raising two kids and leading Northern New Mexico College’s women’s basketball team.

Dan Serafin and Adolfo Carrion

Dec 28, 2023, 2:07 AM

Updated 207 days ago

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One New York native’s life has taken him across the globe – from his beginnings in basketball to appearances on reality TV.  
TJ Stukes always loved basketball, and got nine inches taller in one year, pushing basketball to the forefront of his life. He graduated Bronx Regional High School and went on to play in college before going pro in Poland.  
Stukes returned to the United States for the birth of his son and took that opportunity to play with the Harlem Wizards – whose entertaining style of play opened doors for his future.  
“It was a journey, it was a long journey but the Bronx helped,” said Stukes. “It took some getting used to, instead of using my skills to make people 'WOW' I was using my skills to make people laugh, and it was definitely a transition.” 
Stukes took that change and shifted to entertainment, appearing with Nike Battlegrounds on TV in 2005, a show centered around basketball hosted by LeBron James. Since then, Stukes has been on game shows, movies and was most recently a contestant on Netflix’s "Squid Game: The Challenge."
TJ Stukes and his wife are now raising two kids and leading Northern New Mexico College’s women’s basketball team – TJ as an assistant coach and his wife Samantha as the team’s head coach.  


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