Dennis Tinnon: Against All Odds

Becoming a professional basketball player isn’t easy, but at least the path to success is fairly straight forward: be a star in high school, a star in college, and then hopefully get a shot at playing in the pros. That’s it. Simple.

Dennis Tinnon, however, took the long road. His path toward a professional basketball career was a winding one that included more than a few self-inflicted roadblocks. “I wasn’t headed in the right direction,” Tinnon said. “I was misled. Bad choice of friends. And I paid the price for that.”

Dennis Tinnon

After showing plenty of promise on the court, Tinnon was primed for success as a high school junior. College coaches and scholarship offers were likely on their way for the 6-foot-8 double-double machine. Instead, Tinnon found himself in legal trouble and kicked out of his high school for the second time. After failing to complete the community service requirements that resulted from the legal issues, Tinnon was sentenced to three weekends in jail.

Tinnon was resilient and battled back. With the help of dedicated teachers and coaches, Tinnon returned to school for his senior season, where he averaged 18 points and 15 rebounds per game en route to honorable mention All-State recognition. Despite the success on the court, Tinnon’s past still plagued him. His inconsistent attendance left him a few credits short of graduating from high school and his academic status left him without many college options.

Dennis Tinnon

Ultimately, Tinnon attended a junior college in North Dakota where he could train with the team while he pursued his GED. Once again, Tinnon found himself in trouble. In October, before he ever stepped foot on a court for an official game or practice, Tinnon was involved in another legal issue and eventually left North Dakota.

His misdemeanor violated his probation from the previous legal issues he had in high school. The result: another weekend in jail. In less than two years, Tinnon had gone from an inmate to an All-State basketball performer to an inmate again. That ultimately served as a wake-up call for Tinnon. Enough was enough.

Dennis Tinnon

After his release, Tinnon avoided roadblocks. Faced with a harsh reality and a criminal record, Tinnon had no basketball options remaining. Instead, he took a job at a meat processing plant to support himself and his pregnant girlfriend. He thought basketball was behind him and feared he would spend the rest of his life working on the processing line.

An old friend asked Tinnon to play in a local basketball tournament, which eventually led Tinnon to a tryout at Kansas City Kansas Community College. The rest is history.

“My first year, I had 13 points and 10 rebounds a game,” Tinnon said. “My sophomore year was actually my breakout year, where I averaged 23 points and almost 14 rebounds per game. That was a big year. I had a lot of D-1 colleges that were looking at me after that.”

Tinnon ended up at Marshall University, where he averaged a double-double for two years and established himself as an NBA prospect or at least an overseas professional. After so many missteps along the way, Tinnon finally found himself on track for a professional basketball career. He worked out for a few NBA teams but eventually landed in Germany, where he’s played professionally the past few years.

Dennis Tinnon

Tinnon learned from his mistakes and worked hard to create a better life for himself and his family. He knows what it’s like to be at the bottom, and he doesn’t have any interest in going back.

With me having my wife and my two kids, it gives me the drive to go hard in the gym. That’s why I do this – to make sure they don’t have to starve.
Dennis Tinnon

That work ethic has translated to both the weight room and the court. Tinnon attacks the weight room with ferocity, pushing himself to lift longer, harder, and to fight for extra reps. He won’t let anybody outwork him in the gym or out-hustle him on the court.

“I’ve played with a lot of guys who are bigger than me, but they don’t have the type of mindset I have,” Tinnon said. “I live and die to get that ball. I have the mindset that every time the ball comes off the rim, I’m finding a way to get that rebound. I out-hustle a lot of guys. I just don’t quit.”

Dennis Tinnon

That persistence is a theme throughout Tinnon’s life. Giving up his basketball dreams would have been easy – as easy as continuing down his troubled past. But Tinnon never gave up. Thanks in no small part to his wife and kids, Tinnon put his past behind him and focused on his future. Against all odds, he achieved his dreams.

“Basketball has meant so much to me and still does,” Tinnon said. “I would tell kids out there or anybody that’s trying to find themselves to just keep working hard and don’t give up. I’ve been through a lot of trials and tribulations, a lot of ups and downs. Every situation I’ve endured wasn’t always the greatest, but I found a way to get myself out of those situations.”

“I would definitely tell kids to keep grinding. If you’re not working, there is always someone else who is. You got to want to perfect your craft. You have to want to be better than the guy who is next to you… Just work hard and things will come to you. They definitely will.”


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  • Fernando Washington:

    Good luck bro!

  • Betsy Arthur:

    Good Luck Dennis!

  • Momma nickey:

    I love the Tinnon Gang

  • Mz geno:

    Good luck

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