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Even before he emerged as the unsung hero of the Miami Heat’s improbable Finals run, Caleb Martin truly had his own humble beginnings which shaped him to who he is today.

As he joined the Dan LeBatard show on Wednesday, Martin reflected on the challenging moment he endured when he was released by the Charlotte Hornets in what he described as the “biggest slap in the face” for him.

“Definitely, probably getting waived by the Hornets,” he said. “Not getting drafted, I could prepare for that, and I kind of been prepared for that and you kind of get an idea wherever you’re going through that process. But I think that definitely getting waived by the Hornets is the biggest slap in the face.”

After he went undrafted back in the 2019 Draft out of Nevada, Martin was picked up by the Hornets alongside his brother Cody. He remained on the team for two seasons until he was waived by the club in August of 2021.

Martin admitted that he was contemplating at that time about the next path of his career, as going overseas became a realistic option he considered.

“At that point, I had no idea. Honestly just at that point I couldn’t—that was my first time experiencing that in the league so I just had no idea how it went after that,” he said. “I’m thinking automatically like ‘I think I’m going overseas’ so I’m like it was crazy to me. I definitely thought that if I had a chance to go to the NBA, it would be built for a minute… After that, I was just saying like basically my chances of making it to the league and sticking into the league felt like it was none. 

“It’s gonna have to really take a team to kind of see something in me to give the opportunity again.”

A month after the release made by the Hornets, Miami gave Martin a chance and inked him to a two-way contract. Due to his solid season for them, his deal was converted by team president Pat Riley to a standard one.

And in the offseason, he went on and earned a three-year $20MM deal. This value he signed has been worth it given the robust displays he’s been showing to contribute on the Heat’s ongoing Cinderella run which includes his Game 7 heroics over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

“It’s just like what the people say. The culture, the vibe, how you work,” Martin said about the Heat. “People within the Heat organization have been together for a long time. Can’t say that for any organization.”