After years behind the camera, Malik Beasley is ready to step into the NBA's bright lights.
The fluorescent lights beam. The red dot blinks. The camera rolls. The typically charming Michael Beasley stares into the lens, a brutish expression painted on his face. While he's known for performing roles as security guards and policemen, today's filming is focused on selling tires. “It’s weird for me seeing him act so aggressive,” says Michael’s son, former Florida State guard, Malik Beasley.
Beasley commonly worked the camera in his family’s audition room when Michael and his wife, Deena, filmed four times each week in search of acting callbacks. After leaving the states as a teen to model around the world, Deena has collected her fair share of roles. She played the mother of Thresh, the blade twirling tribute from District 11, in The Hunger Games.
Michael’s father, Jon, launched the family business when he appeared in the 1989 film Rapid Fire. He’s played a number of recurring TV roles and portrayed Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson’s father in the 2004 film Walking Tall. “It’s such a powerful role,” Beasley says of his grandfather's work. Michael currently owns the most credits on IMDB. He looks back fondly on his year playing Jimmy Clay on HBO’s Eastbound & Down. “That was a dream job,” Michael says. “We would laugh for 16 straight hours.”
Staying true to the family tradition, Beasley will take center stage next Thursday at the 2016 NBA draft. After one season starring in Tallahassee, Fla., he’ll be at Barclays Center, clad in a fresh suit, hoping to hear Adam Silver call his name in the first round.
Beasley's father, who played professional basketball throughout Latin America before his son was born, smiled as his Beasley gravitated towards sports rather than the camera as a youngster.
“He was very good at every sport he played,” Michael says. “First year he played baseball, he was an all-star. He was an all-star in football the first year he played in grade school. He’s a freak of nature. He’s just really good at sports. You show him how to do it one time and he just do it.” Beasley once followed his grandfather to a celebrity golf tournament, picked up a club and immediately struck the ball 50 yards in a beautiful, straight arch. Father and son went on to play 18 holes almost every Sunday. Beasley regularly breaks 90 strokes on a par-72 course. “He’s got such a pretty swing,” Michael says, “it makes you mad.”
Beasley occasionally found his way to his parents’ on-set shoots as well. He appeared in a Delta Airlines commercial when he was 8 years old—“I was always laughing and joking around and playing around, not being serious,” Beasley says—and giggled even harder on the set of Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman. “It just gave them a different perspective on life. It shows you how to treat people, things that you learn and we taught on the set,” Michael says. “You treat everybody how you want to be treated, all the extras, all the producers, you treat everybody with the same amount of respect that you want to have.”
The family’s close bond encouraged Beasley to stay closer to home for college, choosing Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles program, which was only a four-hour drive away from Alpharetta, Ga. Beasley had built a bond with Hamilton and craved competing in the talent-rich ACC. “I wanted the best competition every night,” Beasley said. He was so eager to begin his collegiate career, he expedited his high school finals to begin summer classes and join open gym at FSU before he even walked at graduation.
The gesture made quite the first impression on the Seminoles’ returning players. “They've seen how hard he works, how hard he wanted it,” says fellow freshman Dwayne Bacon. “They had no choice but to respect him.” Beasley hoped to help lead Florida State back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the program’s string of four-straight appearances ended in 2012. “He didn’t come in trying to be a leader, he came in trying to contribute,” Hamilton says.
Beasley’s jump start fueled early season brilliance. He led Florida State in scoring during the Seminoles’ 4–2 start, and topped all freshmen in the nation at 20 points per game entering a Dec. 6 contest vs. VCU. A vicious, open-court jam against Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 13 punctuated the message he had arrived. “I will always remember that dunk no matter what,” Bacon says. Beasley and Bacon closed the campaign as Florida State’s leading scorers, separated by just seven points on the season, although the team unfortunately stumbled through conference play and sat out March Madness once again.
The conference talent Beasley sought ultimately limited the Seminoles' run, but served as an excellent shot for an NBA audition. Beasley flashed the prototypical skillset for a modern two guard at 6’5” with a 6’7” wingspan and shooting stroke that withstood a recent stress fracture surgery in his right leg. Just weeks after the procedure, Beasley calmly drained NBA-range triples at his agency’s pro day in Las Vegas.
Age, athleticism and a well-rounded perimeter game make Beasley a first-round candidate. After years of watching behind the camera, he’s ready for the league’s bright lights.