Brownsburg High School girls basketball standout Stephanie Mavunga once walked away from the sport she loves. Between her Brownsburg third grade travel league seasons, she quit. Mavunga was hurt by others' comments.
"Some people would tell me I was only good because I was tall and some were saying I wasn't good at all and a waste of height," said Stephanie, who is now a 6-4 power forward. Her older brother Julian convinced her otherwise. "He started working with me and told me no matter what anyone says I can always make it to the top," she said. "As long as I have God by my side and I keep on working, there is no one who can stop me. Even when I play now, I always have my brother's words with me." Mavunga, ranked No. 23 nationally in the class of 2013 by ESPN, has signed to play with North Carolina next season. Julian is playing professional basketball in Italy after playing in college at Miami (Ohio) University. Julian and Gordon Hayward led Brownsburg to the Class 4A state title in 2008. Separated by around 5,000 miles, Stephanie and Julian still communicate nearly daily though texts, Skype or phone calls. "He's my rock," Stephanie said. "He sends me inspiration texts before my games." Stephanie said even though Julian is five years older, she calls him her twin because they are so close. "He got me to be a better person," she said, "a better Christian and a better basketball player." Before every free throw, brother and sister repeat the same words in their heads. "We say, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,'." Stephanie said. "That's one of our basketball bonds."