Local ex-NBA player reflects on becoming Atlanta firefighter

by: Wendy Corona Updated:

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ATLANTA —

Tim James has been a hero in three different uniforms in three different fields. Channel 2's Wendy Corona met James at Fire Station 27 in Atlanta and learned what drives him in each new challenge.

"I've been a rookie in a lot of places, so I get the rookie jokes and pranks," James said.

James said that it's every kid's dream to be an NBA player, a firefighter, or in the Army; he has done all three.

Size and talent shot his basketball hobby to a full scholarship to the University of Miami.

"I was All American. I had my jersey retired. I had pretty much a stellar career there and I was fortunate enough to get drafted by the Miami Heat in the first round," said James.

For three years, he played and learned under some of the basketball greats.

"[I was] mentored by Alonzo Mourning coming in, Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn. It was just a privilege to be able to play with those guys and to be on the same court," said James.

Then, in 2008, James decided to hang up the shoes and enter public service. James became the league's first to enlist and serve in Iraq.

The Heat took notice, and according to James, "sent a lot of care packages over. It made our soldiers very happy to know that people back home and especially people from the Heat organization cared about the sacrifice they were making."

Next on James' list is becoming an Atlanta firefighter.

"In these professions, it's all collectively done as a unit to accomplish the goal [of helping others]," said James.

James said this will be his last uniform. He does have personal goals for himself within the fire department, and he hopes to grow and eventually retire from the Atlanta Fire Department.