Peyton Siva determined at a young age that he was going to break the cycle of trouble and despair that most of his family was caught in. He was only 13 years old when he picked up his dad from a local drug-house and talked him out of committing suicide and talked him into helping Peyton compete for a different life. His father agreed.
For much of his youth, Peyton’s father battled addiction to drugs and alcohol, his half-sister was a teenager single mother that was a “habitual shoplifter,” his older brother was involved in local gangs and drug dealing, while Peyton’s mother worked multiple menial jobs just to get by. It was not the life Peyton wanted. A talented athlete with a vision for a brighter future, Peyton committed to school, sports, and staying out of trouble that many youth in Seattle’s rough “Deuce 8” succumbs to.
At 5’11, 180, he’s not the biggest guy on the court, but man can he play. A lightning quick dribble and the ability to channel all of his anger and passion into smart, aggressive basketball led Peyton to earn Washington’s Mr. Basketball and MVP awards as well as All-American honors. He followed his AAU teammate Terrence Williams to play for Rick Pitino at Louisville. It was there that his game took off even more.
The more Peyton played and excelled, the more his family took note and started changing their own behaviors. As his brother Michael told ESPN, “Everyone knew us because of him, and we didn’t want to disappoint or drag him down.” Peyton even has his father stay with him every November through March to help his father compete for sobriety. It helps him traveling from Seattle to Louisville, Kentucky, as a way to escape from the temptations that daily call toward him.
After struggling early in his junior year while trying to balance caring for his family, managing his school studies, leading a college Bible study, a college girlfriend, and still being a young man, Peyton recommitted to basketball mid-way through the season – and dominated. He lead the Louisville Cardinals to the Big East Championship and a Final Four run.
Peyton now enters his senior season as the Big East’s preseason player of the year and his Louisville Cardinals are a preseason top-5 title contender. He started the season off right with 10 points and 10 assists as the Cardinals defeated Manhattan in Sunday night’s opening game. Scouts do not know how the undersized guard will translate to the NBA, but for right now, Peyton is simply focused on being a college student athlete with his eyes fixed on another Final Four run. It is a far cry from the life he could have had if he had followed in his family’s footsteps. Peyton identified early on what he did – and what he didn’t – want in his life, and competed every day to reach it. It’s a telling story that even the hardest of family cycles can be broken by a determined spirit.
For more on Peyton’s journey, check out the article in ESPN: The Magazine’s preseason NCAA basketball issue here.