Chauncey Billups: Denver’s “Big Shot”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and former Mayor Wellington Webb, left, and NBA standout Chauncey Billups and his wife Piper, right, flank Billups’ portrait that was unveiled Tuesday at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. (Photo by Josh Miller/Special to the SOS)

Hometown hero Chauncey Billups credited his family and his community for his successes on and off the basketball court when his photograph was unveiled this week at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library.

The NBA all-star said he plans to bring his daughters to see the library when they are home from college for the holidays and he urged others to visit the library at 2401 Welton St.

Basketball star Chauncey Billups pays tribute to Denver’s first black mayor, Wellington Webb. (Photos by Evan Semón Photography @evansemonphotography #denverEvan)

“My great great grandkids are going to be able to come here and see their old, old man,” Billups said.

“I never dreamed this big, to have something like this. … I’m so proud of where I’m from and who raised me. I appreciate you all supporting me over the years and I love you back.”

He also thanked former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and Webb’s wife, former state Rep. Wilma Webb, for their efforts in pushing for the construction of the library, where a portion is dedicated to making sure Denver and Colorado’s rich black history is not lost.

“You talk about people who impacted me as a kid?” Billups said. “Having Mayor Webb being a black mayor from the neighborhood instilled in us kids we could do anything.”

Chauncey Billups drives for a basket in OT as the Nuggets beat the Suns at the Pepsi Center in 2009. (RMN/Western History/Denver Public Library)

The master of ceremonies,  Dr. Ryan Ross, got a big laugh when he introduced Webb as the “undisputed heavyweight champion of politics.”

Billups’ wife, Piper, his parents, Ray and Faye Billups, and his grandmother attended the unveiling Tuesday night, where Ross and others talked about Billups’ humility and path in life.

Billups grew up in Park Hill playing basketball at Skyland Recreation center and was a standout at George Washington High School in Denver, where he graduated in 1995. He played for the University of Colorado Buffaloes before playing for the NBA for 17 seasons, where he picked up the nickname “Big Shot.” 

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock referred to the nickname.

“Tonight we are here to celebrate a big shot, one of our very own. Before there was Phillip Lindsay there was Chauncey Billups,” Hancock said, referring to the Broncos hot running back.

Hancock touched on Billups’ achievements since moving back to Denver.

Among those who attended Chauncey Billups’ portrait unveiling at the Blair-Caldwell library were Susana Cordova with Denver Public Schools, Landi Taylor, who serves on the library board, and Veronica Barela, the former CEO of NEWSED. (SOS photo)

“He has been a smart, brilliant and thoughtful businessman. He has taken care of his family,” Hancock said.

“He is touching eternity through his investments as part of the Porter-Billups Leadership Academy, where Chauncey works to provide academic and leadership training to our young people, some of the most vulnerable kids in our city, the same neighborhoods that he came from.”

Billups said he is a “mirror reflection” of his parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles, rec center staffers, coaches and more, and God’s influence. And he pointed to God’s influence in his life.

“Oh, man, not many times am I speechless like this,” he said, “but this is really humbling for me.”

Denver native Chauncey Billups and his wife Piper with the NBA player’s portrait, which was unveiled Tuesday at the Blair-Caldwell library. (Photo by by Evan Semón Photography @evansemonphotography #denverEvan)