John Lucas II: NBA, Net Worth & Drug Addiction

The evergreen star John Lucas II is an American-born professional basketball coach and former NBA player. The retired veteran athlete has been serving as the player development coach of the Houston Rockets since 2016.

John’s playing career was already over long before the 2000s. He had started his NBA journey in 1976 after his present club Houston Rockets, picked him as the top pick in the 1976 draft. 

Before that, he played his college basketball for the Merryland Terrapins for full four seasons.

John Lucas with the Maryland Terrapins (Source: Marryland Athletics)
John Lucas II with the Maryland Terrapins (Source: Maryland Athletics)

The North Carolina native primarily played in the point guard position and was very successful in playmaking and scoring points.

As he was not that tall, he could easily dodge his opponents and make a way toward their hoops.

However, he was not very impressive on the defensive side of the court.

Apart from his basketball career, Lucas was an accomplished tennis player and continued playing it alongside the NBA League. 

It has already been around a half-century since he started his professional career, but still, he shows no sign to rest. He wishes to remain attached to the court as long as he can walk.

Discover more about this living history of basketball, John Lucas, in the article below. But before that, let’s see some quick facts about him.

Quick Facts

Full NameJohn Harding Lucas II
Known AsJohn Lucas
Date of BirthOctober 31, 1953
Birth PlaceDurham, North Carolina, the USA
Nick NameNot available
ReligionChristianity
NationalityAmerican
EthnicityAfrican-American
Zodiac Sign Scorpio
Age69 years old
Height1.91 m (6 feet 3 inches)
Weight175 lb (79 kg)
Eye ColorDark brown
BuildAthletic
Father’s NameJohn Harding Lucas
Mother’s NameBlondola Lucas
SiblingsCheryl Lucas
Education
  • Hillside High School (Durham, North Carolina)
  • University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
Marital StatusMarried
Sexual OrientationStraight
WifeDebbie Fozard
KidsJohn III, Jai, Tarvia
Former professionBasketball player
Current professionCoach
NBA Draft1976 / Round: 1 / 1st pick overall
PositionPoint guard
League National Basketball Association (NBA)
Active Years(1976 – 1990)
Net Worth$1 – $8 million
Currently Plays ForNone / Retired
Jersey Numbers15, 10, 4, 5, 20
Social Media None
MerchNotebook
Last UpdateNovember 2022

John Lucas | Early Life, Family & Education

John Harding Lucas II, commonly known as John Lucas, was born in Durham, North Carolina, United States. He was the youngest child of John Harding Lucas and Blondola Lucas.

Besides them, he had an elder sister named Cheryl in the family.

John initially attended the local school in Durham for his early education. Both his parents were teachers, so he did not have much problem learning the letters. He was academically very gifted and always brought good results.

His parents were often busy working in schools, so he mostly spent time with his sister and grandmother when there was no school. Besides studies, he grew fond of sports at a very young age.

Lucas' father John Harding Lucas (Source: YouTube)
Lucas’ father, John Harding Lucas (Source: YouTube)

According to his sister, Lucas was a shy guy during his childhood. He usually liked to sit alone and read books when he was home. However, he behaved the exact opposite when he went outside to play.

His childhood friends who played with him in his hometown know him as a lively, interactive guy with good basketball skills. So surprisingly, he had both introvert and outgoing characteristics while growing up.

After his middle school education, he joined Hillside High School, where his father was the principal. So, he studied there for four years and excelled as a well-trained basketball and tennis player.

He eventually enrolled in the University of Maryland in College Park, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Education in 1976. Similarly, he later graduated with his Master’s in Education from the University of San Francisco.

John Lucas | Career

College Career

John Lucas joined the University of Maryland in 1972 and played for the Maryland Terrapins until his graduation in 1976. Even though he stayed with them for four seasons, his team could reach the NCAA tournament only once.

In his second season, he got along with his seniors, Len Elmore and Tom McMillen, quite well, and the Terrapins became a more robust team during his sophomore season.

Their fans had high hopes that they would lead them to the NCAA tournament that year, but they could not make it after failing to win the ACC tournament. However, they participated in the Division I games in Lucas’ junior season.

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Professional Career

The Houston Rockets chose him as the 1976 NBA draft’s overall first pick in the first round. 

Every time he stepped into the court, he did it with great composure and confidence that he had an outstanding rookie season.

He played all 82 matches and finished that season with an average of 11.1 points and 5.6 assists per game.

After playing one more season with the Rockets, they traded him to the Golden State Warriors for the 1978-79 season. 

John Lucas with the Houston Rockets
John Lucas II with the Houston Rockets (Source: Bleacher Report)

His games during his middle seasons were very inconsistent. He started neglecting practice sessions and began missing games without any reason while playing for clubs such as San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards (then Washington Bullets).

He was suspended from the NBA and sent to a rehabilitation center for unlawful practice in 1986.

However, he returned to the league in the fall of that same year with the Milwaukee Bucks. Lucas appeared in four more NBA seasons for clubs following his return, including Seattle SuperSonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder).

John Lucas eventually retired from his professional career in 1990. He was with his first-ever NBA club, the Houston Rockets, at the time of his retirement.

Besides his club career, he also represented the US national team in the FIBA World Championship in 1974.

Coaching Career

After he retired from his playing career, he took some rest and eventually returned to the court as the head coach of the Miami Tropics.

The Tropics were the club for athletes suspended for drug abuse and usually participated in the US Basketball League (USBL).

After that, he coached the San Antonio Spurs, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Besides that, he has worked as an assistant coach for other clubs, namely Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. He has been with the Houston Rockets as the player development coach since 2016.

Awards & Achievements

Some of his awards and achievements are:

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (1977)
  • ACC Athlete of the Year (1976)
  • Third-team Parade All-American (1972)
  • Consensus first-team All-American (1975, 1976)
  • Second-team All-American – AP (1974)
  • First-team All-ACC (1974-1976)
  • Third-team All-American – NABC (1974)
  • Bronze medal at the FIBA World Championship (1974)

A coach:

  • USBL champion (1992)

Net Worth

The exact net worth of John Lucas is unknown. While some websites on the internet have mentioned it to be $8 million, some others claim that he has a net worth ranging from $1 to $5 million. 

So, assessing the information available on Internet, his net worth lies somewhere between $1 to $8 million.

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John Lucas | Personal Life

John Lucas married his longtime girlfriend, Debbie Fozard, in the early 1980s. Their wedding was organized in Durham and was attended by a few people comprising of their close friends and relatives.

Debbie was around the same age as John Lucas, and they had known each other since their school days. Her family had known Lucas’ family from the beginning, so they grew up playing together.

She saw him grow and improve his game from high school to college days and finally make it to the NBA.

When Lucas took the wrong way of drug abuse while playing in the NBA, she was there to look after him, and she had an essential role in bringing his senses back.

Consequently, he returned to the court with her motivation and became a confident man.

The couple is blessed with three children. Their first son, John Lucas III, was born on November 21, 1982. Similarly, their younger son, Jai Lucas, was born on December 5, 1988.

In addition, Debbie had given birth to their first child, Tarvia Lucas, before their marriage. She was just two years old when they tied the knot.

Their daughter has a long experience of working as a school teacher.

Like Father, Like Son

People often jokingly say that playing basketball is their family business. Like Lucas, both his kids are involved in professional basketball games. 

His elder son, John III, had an aptitude for basketball since he was a toddler. He started playing it when he got hold of the ball when he was four.

He was the state leader in scoring points as he averaged around 30.0 points per game during high school.

John Lucas with his elder son John III (Source: Twitter)
John Lucas II with his elder son, John Lucas III (Source: Twitter)

Even though he went undrafted in the 2005 NBA draft, he played in the NBA and professional basketball leagues in countries like China and Puerto Rico for around twelve years.

After retiring in 2017, he worked for nearly two years with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Since 2021, he has been working as an assistant coach for another NBA club, Los Angeles Lakers.

Similarly, his younger son, Jai, took the same path and played basketball. Although his playing career was very brief, he made a career out of basketball and is quite successful.

He is currently working as an assistant coach for the Kentucky Wildcats. Before that, he was an assistant coach for the Texas Longhorns for four years, where he had played his college basketball.

Drug Addiction and Subsequent Recovery

John Lucas was involved in drug abuse and alcoholism soon after he started playing in the NBA. However, he said he initially used marijuana and cocaine in small doses to ease the pressure, which soon became chronic addiction.

In addition, he began consuming beers in large amounts regularly.

Consequently, he began to miss games, became arrogant, lied to his family members, and even cheated on his wife.

The Golden State Warriors head coach Al Attles sensed it first and confronted him, but Lucas denied it.

In 1986, when his situation became worst, the Houston Rockets compelled him to take a doping test which he failed. Consequently, the club released him, and he spent in rehab in California for many months.

Also, he later took the help of psychiatrists even after returning to the NBA for a few years in Texas.

After recovery, he became involved in conducting awareness against the illegal usage of drugs among youths. He initially started a fitness program in coalition with the Houston International Hospital.

Later, he opened up several programs to help addicted athletes, such as John Lucas Treatment and Recovery Center, Students Taking Action Not Drugs (STAND), etc.

He now runs a John Lucas Enterprises in Texas, which mainly focuses on providing basketball training to children and young athletes by giving counseling classes to youths struggling to escape drug addiction.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long did John Lucas II play in the NBA?

John Lucas played for fourteen years in the NBA.

Did John Lucas II play tennis?

Yes, John Lucas II played tennis. Besides being an outstanding basketball athlete, Lucas was a top-notch tennis player during his initial years. He won the ACC championship twice, in 1974 and 1976.

Lucas also played the World Team Tennis for two different tennis clubs, namely San Franciso Golden Gators and New Orleans Sun Belt Nets, in the late 1970s.

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