TAMPA — He remains the all-time leading scorer in Florida high-school basketball history – 3,744 points – and an early cornerstone of the championship program built by Billy Donovan at the University of Florida.
Now Teddy Dupay lives in Tampa, far removed from an NCAA investigation that prematurely ended his Gator career, a long way from a vagabond life that had him drifting and searching. He has made good on a shot at redemption by establishing a basketball academy that develops kids on the court, while preaching good choices, work ethic and giving back to the community.
This week, Dupay takes his shot at history.
Beginning Wednesday afternoon, Dupay will attempt to break the Guinness World Records mark for the most 3-point baskets made in a 24-hour period. But he has a greater goal in mind. Dupay hopes to raise $100,000 – through donations and pledges – to benefit a cause that has captivated him, Academy Prep, a private middle school in Ybor City that gives full scholarships to inner-city children.
“I can’t conceive of how many times in my life that I have shot a basketball,’’ said Dupay, 36. “I have shot all day before. I’ve gotten to the gym as the sun was rising, before it even came up. I’ve gotten there early and stayed late. I’m used to shooting a lot.’’
But never like this.
Dupay’s world-record attempt – billed as “Threes For Kids’’ – has become an extravaganza. Beginning Wednesday at 3 p.m., at the Dream Center of Tampa gymnasium, Dupay will try to take down the mark of 10,381 made 3-pointers, set by Oregon native Daniel Loriaux in 2012. The public is invited to watch. Two judges and a supervisor will make it official. There will be a digital screen that displays Dupay’s longest streaks, how made 3-pointers were made in the last hour and the projected time he could break the record. Dupay said he expects to interact with people throughout, particularly with the kids.
“I can tell them what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling,’’ Dupay said. “If I go through a stretch where I’m not making shots, I can show them the adjustments I’m making. This isn’t me in an empty gym. I want people excited about this and I want them involved.’’
He will work at what looks like the world’s largest “Pop-A-Shot’’ – a device surrounding a 10-foot basketball goal, held together by PVC pipe, netting and tarpaulin – that will guide the basketballs back to Dupay and the NBA-range 3-point arc. It was constructed by his friend Chris McCain, a St. Petersburg resident and Gator alum whose two boys are trained by Dupay.
Although Dupay says “this isn’t about the record’’ and focuses mostly on the financial benefits for Academy Prep, the competitor in him has intricately broken down the possibilities.
According to Dupay’s calculations, the key dynamic is making 12 shots in one minute. “In my life, I have done that lots and lots and lots,’’ he said. This time, though, he must make 12 shots in a one minute – 950 times.
More than a year ago, McCain saw a “Today Show’’ feature on a person who broke the world record for most pull-ups in a 24-hour period. McCain suggested a run at the 3-point record to Dupay, who initially laughed it off. When Dupay realized the charitable fundraising potential of such a stunt, it got serious.
Dupay, 5-foot-10, has trained for a year, losing about 15 pounds to reach 165 (he was 180 at UF). He eats healthy foods and takes yoga classes, keeping his body limber. He will follow his pace for 50 minutes each hour. He has built in five hours of rest into the schedule and expects to take some naps on an air mattress, maybe even retreating to his mother’s nearby hotel room for a quick shower.
He also wrote seven positive affirmations, sealed in envelopes, that he will open and read if the going gets tough. “No way I’m going to quit, but they will give me little reminders about why I’m doing this,’’ Dupay said.
Dupay said he expected a life of helping, giving back, working with kids. But the route he followed was very unexpected.
At UF, he said he was glorified beyond belief.
“Crazy attention, people telling me how great I was … and I played right along,’’ Dupay said. “I didn’t try to not believe it. Everything was going great. It kept getting better. Then the rug was pulled.’’
There were gambling allegations and Dupay was found to have provided inside information to a Florida student who bet on college basketball games. The NCAA was prepared to ban Dupay for one year in 2001, but he decided to leave school, disdaining his senior season, and begin a professional career.
“My plan would’ve been to not have one challenge, ever, but God’s plans were different,’’ Dupay said. “I thought I’d just go to the NBA and after a long career, I could settle into doing stuff with kids.’’
As it turned out, Dupay played some professional basketball here and there. He met a woman in Venezuela and they dated for two years. They had a daughter, Hannah, who is now an accomplished junior golfer and will be at Dupay’s world-record shooting event.
Dupay’s travels took him to Utah, where he pled guilty in 2009 to felony aggravated assault against a former girlfriend and spent 30 days in prison.
He has worked as a telemarketer. He served as the CEO of an advocacy group that sought the legalization of marijuana. He sold real estate.
“My journey has brought me to the place where I’ve meant to be all along,’’ Dupay said. “I have gone through some difficult things, many of which no one even knows about. I can’t control what anyone thinks of me, what judgments they pass.
“But people aren’t my judge and jury. God is. I know I’ve been forgiven for all the bad things I’ve done because I asked Him.’’
Dupay said he’s at peace. He loves working with kids. And he’s excited about getting behind the cause of Academy Prep, the reason why he’s about the make 3-point attempts until his arms ache.
“Very few people are able to realize what they’ve wanted their entire life,’’ Dupay said. “It’s great to have full confidence that your purpose is yours and you’re not just working for somebody else. You’re not doing something because it pays you the best or because you have to.
“It’s what you want to do. And this is what I want to do.’’
Teddy Dupay’s world-record 3-point shooting event, benefitting Academy Prep, will be held at the Dream Center of Tampa, 2806 N. 15th St. Donations can be made through GoFundMe.com/threesforkids or ThreesForKids.com.