Paul was born and raised in North Carolina. Despite only playing two varsity basketball seasons in high school, he was a McDonald's All-American and accepted a scholarship with nearby Wake Forest University. After his sophomore year with the Demon Deacons, he declared for the draft. Since being selected 4th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Hornets, Paul has been an NBA Rookie of the Year (2006), a six-time All-Star, an All-Star Game Most Valuable Player (MVP), and a multiple-time All-NBA and All-Defensive team honoree. He led the Hornets to the second round of the 2008 NBA Playoffs. He has also won two Olympic gold medals with the United States national basketball team.
Off the court, Paul enjoys bowling and is a sponsored spokesperson for the United States Bowling Congress (USBC). He has participated in numerous celebrity and youth bowling events as the head of the CP3 Foundation, which benefits programs in Louisiana affected by Hurricane Katrina, as well as charities in Winston-Salem.
Early yearsChris Paul was born in Lewisville, North Carolina in 1985 as the second son of Charles Edward Paul and Robin Jones, two years after Charles "C.J." Paul in 1983. Charles and Robin were childhood friends who grew up in Winston-Salem and were members of Dreamland Park Baptist before marrying in 1982. A former athlete himself, Charles taught his sons the games of basketball and football and coached them in various youth events throughout their childhood. Paul was a gifted athlete, going to the national Pop Warner football championships as a quarterback and linebacker on the Lewisville Titans Junior Pee Wee team, and winning several 14U AAU national tournaments in basketball.
Besides athletics, the Paul brothers spent their summers operating the cash register, rotating tires and changing air filters at Jones Chevron, a service station owned by their grandfather Nathanial Jones on their mother Robin's side. Affectionately known as "Papa Chilly" throughout the community, Jones had operated the station, the first such African-American-operated service station in North Carolina since 1964 during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Paul describes his grandfather as "his best friend" and credits many life lessons to him.
High schoolIn 1999, Paul began attending West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, North Carolina, where C.J. was already a star junior at point guard. Despite Paul's talent, he was at a significant disadvantage due to his 5 ft 0 in (1.52 m) stature. Paul opted to play on the JV basketball team his freshman and sophomore years, believing that the opportunity to gain confidence and experience on the JV would be more beneficial than sitting on the bench on varsity. Meanwhile, Paul grew to 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m) by his sophomore year.
By the time Paul had ascended to the varsity squad as a junior, C.J. had graduated. The Paul brothers only ended up playing on the court for 15 seconds together at the end of a playoff game in Paul's sophomore year and C.J.'s senior year in 2001. Paul, who spurted another eight inches to 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), posted 25.0 points, 5.3 assists and 4.4 steals per game to help West Forsyth (26–4) reach the state semifinals. Over the next summer, Paul emerged as a heavily recruited point guard. With his family watching, Paul signed his letter of intent to Wake Forest to play for coach Skip Prosser before his senior year. Only 13 miles away from where he grew up in Lewisville, Paul had already verbally committed to them during his junior year and attended many Demon Deacons practices and games.
Tragically, only a day after signing his letter of intent, the body of Nathanial Jones was discovered by Paul's father. Jones died after being beaten and robbed by a group of teens as he unloaded groceries from his car in his driveway. Five teenagers tied Jones’ hands behind his back, taped his mouth, and beat him around the head and face. Jones, who had a history of heart trouble, lay in his carport and died from cardiac arhythmia. He was 61. Over 2,000 people honored the memories of Jones at his funeral four days later. The next day, fueled by the suggestion of an aunt, an emotionally devastated Paul scored 61 points in honor of his grandfather, one point for every year his grandfather lived, in West Forsyth's 2002–03 season opener.
Despite Paul's previous career high being 39 points, by halftime, he had racked up 32 points in 16 minutes. When Paul reached the 61-point mark late in the 4th quarter, he purposely airballed a free throw, then took himself out of the game to hug his family on the sidelines, even though the state high school scoring record of 66 points was well within reach. In 2003, Paul averaged 30.8 points, 9.5 assists, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.0 steals per game the remainder of his senior year and led his team to a 27–3 record and the Class 4A Eastern Regional finals. He was a 2003 McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic participant and was named North Carolina's Mr. Basketball for 2003 by The Charlotte Observer.
Summer circuitThough he did not win a state championship while in high school, Paul did take the Winston-Salem-based Kappa Magic (alongside future University of North Carolina rival Reyshawn Terry), to the 2002 National U-17 AAU Championship over an All-Ohio team led by 2003 McDonald's All-American Drew Lavender, taking home the tournament's MVP award in the process.
College careerPaul attended Wake Forest University and played for the Demon Deacons for two seasons, leading the school to two NCAA Tournaments, including one Sweet Sixteen appearance. He was also part of the first #1 men's basketball team in school history. Paul was recruited by then-Demon Deacons head coach Skip Prosser, who only noticed the young point guard when Paul purposely bumped into him at an AAU tournament in Florida so he would take notice of him. In Paul's freshman year, he started and made an immediate impact. He was named the ACC Rookie of the Year, Third Team All-ACC, an All-American Honorable Mention, and National Freshman of the Year by several publications as he averaged 14.8 points and 5.9 assists a game and helped the Demon Deacons reach the Sweet Sixteen of the 2004 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament before losing to St. Joseph's. Paul also broke five Wake Forest freshman records, three-point percentage, free throws, free throw percentage, assists and steals.
Paul also earned ACC All-Defensive Team honors during his time at Wake and was among the Consensus First Team All-Americans in his sophomore year. He was also a named to the 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team with a 3.21 grade point average as a third-term selection. During the ACC post season tournament, Paul was suspended one game for punching NC State guard Julius Hodge in the groin in the final game of the regular season. By the time he declared for the 2005 NBA Draft as a sophomore, he had finished near the top of almost every offensive category at Wake Forest.
After his sophomore year, Paul declared for the 2005 NBA Draft. The Demon Deacons went 48–16 (.750) in games Chris Paul played in. Paul was ranked second among Wake Forest's all-time career leaders for 3-point shooting percentage (.469), and 7th in assists and steals.
On March 2, 2013, Paul's #3 jersey was officially retired during the Wake Forest-Maryland game and hung from the rafters at Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
New Orleans Hornets
2005–06: Rookie stardom
Paul led all rookies in points, assists, steals, and minutes, earning him the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Paul was a near-unanimous winner for the award, but one voter (Ron Boone, television analyst for the Utah Jazz) gave Deron Williams his vote instead of Paul. This, along with the fact that both were taken back to back in the draft and play the same position, has led to an on-court rivalry between Paul and Williams. Their rivalry began on December 1, 2004 when Paul led his No. 1-ranked Wake Forest into Champaign to face Williams' Illini. Illinois thrashed the Demon Deacons 91–73 and took the top spot from there into their run to the 2005 NCAA Championship Game. Williams had 8 points and 11 assists while Paul was held to 10 points.
Paul finished the 2005–06 season averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 assists, and 5.1 rebounds. He was also the only unanimous selection to the 2005–06 NBA All Rookie First Team and was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month every month in the 2005–06 season. After the season, Paul won the ESPY Award for Best Breakthrough Athlete. He recorded his first triple-double on April 2, 2006 against the Toronto Raptors with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists.
2006–07 seasonPaul followed up his impressive rookie campaign with a solid sophomore season. He improved his scoring average to 17.3 points, and improved his assists average with 8.9 per game. He averaged 4.4 rebounds per game. Paul's season was riddled with injuries though, as he was limited to playing in only 64 games.
Paul was not named an All-Star in 2007, but he was named to replace Steve Nash in the 2007 PlayStation Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend. He played in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and dished out 17 assists and had 9 steals, both T-Mobile Rookie Challenge records. When interviewed during the Rookie Challenge, Paul vowed that he would be an All-Star next season, as the All-Star Game would be held in New Orleans.