When Quentin Grimes scored a career-high 50 points in Woodlands (Texas) College Park’s 117-57 victory against Montgomery, plenty of hoops fans in the Houston metro area took notice. So did fans farther north in Lawrence, Kansas, where he will anchor the latest strong Jayhawks recruiting class in fall 2018.
Yet there was another interested observer who took notice on the other side of the continent in Manitoba. There aren’t a lot of Texas high school sports fans in Winnipeg, but the one who is has a very vested interest in Grimes’ success: Tyler Myers, the standout defenseman for the Winnipeg Jets, is Grimes’ half-brother.
Together, Myers, Grimes and their mother Tonja Stelly make up what may be the most modern, diverse elite sports family of all-time. Three last names, two brothers, two countries, two sports and one common bond that ties them all together. Now they could be as little as a year away from a historic milestone: becoming the first pair of brothers to play in the NBA and NHL.
Myers didn’t grow up in a hockey hotbed, but he did have hockey roots. Born and raised in Texas until age 10, his parents — Stelly and Paul Myers, an oil executive — divorced when he was still young. Paul Myers is a former college hockey player and remained passionate about the sport, which he introduced to his son. Years later, Myers was hired by a Calgary based energy company to become its CEO. The elder Myers brought his athletic son with him, and part of the lure of Canada was the ability for Tyler Myers to focus on hockey.
“As a young kid like that, I don’t think the entire decision was mine or anything like that. I don’t remember too many of the details. It ended up working out that way and I was able to still get down to Texas and visit my Mom and Quentin as much as I could.”
Just before Myers left, his mother gave birth to Tyler’s half-brother. They would never live together.
Myers arrived in Calgary after playing any sport he could get his hand on as an oversized Texas kid, excelling in basketball and baseball as well, before eventually giving way when moving North.
“That was just the way we were raised in Kansas,” Stelly, the daughter of a high school football coach, told USA TODAY. “Sports were always around, so that’s how we raised Tyler and Quentin, too. Tyler played a bunch of sports, and eventually first baseball went away, and finally basketball so he could focus on hockey.
“I always tried to push Quentin to play multiple sports, too, because you read about how multisport athletes are more successful. But Quentin was having nothing of it. He was always all basketball from when he was born.”
As Myers advanced in hockey, he continued to travel home to Texas and visit his mother and brother (Myers and Grimes both refer to each other as brother, not half-brother). The bond never wavered, throughout Myers’ junior hockey stop in Kelowna and eventual NHL home in Buffalo. While both brothers have had to work to develop a bond with each other, neither has hesitated.
“As I got a little older obviously hockey started taking over a little more and you find new ways to stay in touch and call each other as much as you can,” Myers said. “I was born in 90 and (Grimes) was born in 2000. Obviously, we haven’t been able to spend a ton of time together with me living in Canada and him living in Texas, but I follow him as much as I can and I get a lot of updates from my Mom. I send him texts here and there mostly congratulating him with things that are happening with his basketball career.”
Unlike hockey, for which the competitive prep and juniors circuit makes grist out of traditional family life in the best of circumstances, basketball has provided a more standard backdrop for Grimes. He focused on the sport in part because his father, former Louisiana Tech point guard Marshall Grimes, began taking him to the gym on weekends at just three years old. As Grimes’ frame grew, so did his game.
He was a highly regarded prospect as a freshman and sophomore, then exploded as a junior, rising into the top 10 overall national prospect rankings. Recruited by nearly every program in the country, Grimes picked Kansas, tying back again to his mother’s roots and where both he and Tyler visited when they were younger.
Throughout that growth process, Quentin says he looked to his brother as a guide for how to live and focus on his passion.
“It’s crazy just seeing how he prepares every game,” Grimes said. “I don’t get to see him that much because our seasons are going on at the same time, but he gives me advice all the time.
“He always tells me about carrying myself as an everyday professional and really focus on taking care of your body. I listen to everything he tells me.”
Meanwhile, Myers excelled on the ice. After debuting with the Sabres in 2009, he emerged as the team’s largest — he is 6-foot-8 — and best defenseman. While he continued to advance personally, Buffalo scuffled. In 2015 he was dealt to Winnipeg as part of a package that sent Evander Kane to Buffalo. With the Jets Myers has established himself as a rotational right defenseman and has played a critical role as the team has raced to a heated Western Conference semifinals series against Nashville, which will host Game 7 on Thursday. He has six goals, 30 assists and a +/- of 9 in the 2017-18 season.
All that success has left a lasting impression on Grimes, and the admiration the high school senior has for Myers is certainly mutual.
“Now that Quentin is older and doing some incredible things with his basketball career … to see him make things like the McDonald’s All-American Game is pretty special for me to see,” Myers said. “I’ve experienced a lot so far through my career, working my way through up to the NHL, and I’ve been able to talk to Quentin, a bit more when he was younger, about the things that I’ve learned to try to help him.”
Stelly claims Grimes was left with a particularly strong impression of what it took to succeed when watching Myers prepare and go through the NHL Scouting Combine. He was just eight at the time, but Grimes never lost sight of the work ethic his mother and brother stressed was so important. It continued throughout his development and is now part of Grimes’ hallmark motor, one of the skills which differentiates him from some of the nation’s other top recruits.
As a senior, Grimes was tapped as a McDonald’s All-American, then Jordan Brand All-American. And now, as he prepares to head to Lawrence, he’s already considered a potential top-10 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft … before he’s even taken a shot in a Jayhawks uniform.
Should that come to fruition, Grimes and Myers (provided some tragic circumstance hasn’t forced him to retire) would fulfill what seems to be their cross-continental destiny as the first pair of brothers to play in the NHL and NBA.
“I would love for us to be the first NHL and NBA brothers,” Grimes said. “My mom (would be) ecstatic to have two of her sons in two different leagues. We get the genes from her so gotta give her all the credit.”
Added Myers: “It’d be pretty cool for sure if he was in the NBA. I’ve already had some thoughts of hopefully we would get caught up in the same city and we could meet up.”
For now, Myers and Grimes will have to settle for the occasional dinner with their mother in Dallas when Winnipeg plays the Stars, though maybe not for long. Myers said he plans to do everything he can to watch his brother play at some point in his collegiate career, whether that’s one season or more in Lawrence.
“It’s really great to see him doing so well and now that he’s committed to Kansas I really hope to find a way to go see a game next year,” Myers said. “I watch March Madness every year and now that he may have a chance to be a big part of it, it’s one of the coolest things that I’m looking forward to.”
One thing is certain: If Myers is in attendance, he’ll be hard to miss. That may be mostly because he’ll be a 6-foot-8 man in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, but he’ll likely also be one of the more enthusiastic fans in the stands when Grimes is at the free throw line. It’s a cheer that was born in Texas, honed in Canada and reinforced by a family across a continent and just as vested in Myers’ success in a rink.
“It was a shame they never got to grow up together, but they’ve really been invested in each other,” Stelly said. “They’ve both been taught they have to work for everything they get because that’s kind of our family motto.”
Pretty good motto for a successful family, no matter how it’s comprised.