By Madisen Carter
Danny LaFortune has had the game of basketball in his life since he was six years old. Growing up, his parents decided to put him in basketball, baseball and soccer, and as he got older and entered the fourth grade, he decided to really focus and continue playing basketball. LaFortune has a lot of experience in basketball as he has played collegiate basketball, has been a team manager, and is now a Player Development Coach at Unlimited Potential Basketball.
LaFortune was born on the East Coast in Maryland, but was raised in the East Bay. After graduating from College Park High School in Pleasant Hill in 2018, he attended Diablo Valley College. During his two years at DVC, LaFortune played in 54 games and finished with a total 396 points,164 rebounds, 69 assists and 51 steals. He was even honored to the All Academic First Team by the league during his time at the college.
After playing two years at DVC, LaFortune then went on to the University of California, Santa Barbara, to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. Along with being a student at UCSB, LaFortune took on the role as a Team Manager for the UCSB Men’s Basketball Team. LaFortune said his experience as a team manager was definitely humbling, but he enjoyed helping out the players on the team get better in their game and reach their goals.
“As time went on, I realized how talented the players [at UCSB] were, so I was totally fine with [all the tasks I did for] them… I knew that they had the real shot at making it far in their career, so I was happy to help them,” LaFortune said.
LaFortune graduated from UCSB in June of 2022. In his last couple months of school and living in Santa Barbara, LaFortune got connected with Coach Packie Turner while he was in the city preparing young athletes for the 2022 NBA Draft. LaFortune said he would help Packie out almost every day in the morning for a few hours and assisted him in whatever he needed at the time.
After spending some time with Packie in Santa Barbara, LaFortune said that sparked an interest in becoming a player development coach and showed him that he could really get into training and be successful at it. Now that he is back in the Bay Area and after going through the hiring process, LaFortune is now officially a part of the UPB Team and has been at the facility for three weeks now.
As a player development coach, LaFortune works with groups of athletes along with working with them individually. He said he likes working with athletes at all ages, and enjoys being able to help them reach their goals within the game.
“I would say I want them to walk away [from a training session] knowing that they had a good time,” LaFortune said. “But also, I want them to realize that even though I'm young, I still have a lot of knowledge and experience from a lot of players, watching the game, and learning [and studying] on my own.”
As LaFortune continues his journey in life, he knows that he wants to keep basketball in it as long as possible. His number one goal is to help others reach their own goals, and he said he will be happy to do that through training, coaching, or even getting on the business side of the ball with athlete representation and negotiating contracts. As of now, he is open to all of those careers and will continue to work towards them as he continues to help others.
“People see [basketball] as just a game, but it can be so much more than that. It brings people together, it is its own community,” LaFortune said.”I feel that the people who are working in it are just all great people, and you could learn a lot from them. Other than that, I just love playing it and I love watching it. I love everything about it. I love teaching it more than anything else, [and] I don't think I could see myself doing anything else.”
Smith has been with UPB for a few weeks now and is helping with group training and private training. He said he has enjoyed seeing the variety of different athletes that come into the gym from division I college basketball players all the way down to three year olds. He said group training has been his favorite part so far, being able to interact with a lot of different athletes and helping them improve throughout the sessions.