Chris Duarte was an NBA Draft riser and was selected No. 13 overall by the Pacers at Thursday night’s 2021 NBA Draft.
What fans may not know is, he’s a doting dad to a 17-month-old son named Christopher, whom he shares with his girlfriend Sylvia Velazquez. It’s unclear when the couple began dating, however, they appeared to go public with the relationship in 2019.
Duarte was overcome with emotion after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called his name from the stage at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He immediately stood up and kissed his son’s head and hugged his girlfriend.
After Duarte was drafted by Indiana, the 24-year-old credited his son as the reason for helping him reach the NBA.
“Chris [Jr.] is everything for me. He means everything for me and my family. He makes me work harder everyday,” Duarte said. The new Pacer, his girlfriend and their son then joined ESPN’s Malika Andrews, where he gushed over his family once more.
Velazquez supported Duarte throughout his collegiate career, including his transition from Northwest Florida State to Oregon, where he led the Ducks to an appearance in the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Duarte was later named recipient of the 2021 Jerry West Award as the top shooting guard in men’s collegiate basketball.
Early on in his basketball career, Duarte moved to the U.S. at age 15 and went the JUCO route. When asked about his long, hard-fought journey to the league, Duarte said, “The fate I got in me, I’ve always believed.” He added that his family, as well as his girlfriend’s family have always been in his corner.
While the couple shares intimate family photos to their respective instagram accounts, Duarte and Velazquez are fairly private about their family and relationship.
When Duarte’s not playing basketball, the couple often travels to his native Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.