Iman Shumpert comes home with ‘Dancing with the Stars’ tour, fond high school memories

Former Oak Park River Forest High School basketball star and NBA champ Iman Shumpert returns to Chicago this weekend as part of the “Dancing With the Stars: Live!” tour. | ABC

The current ‘DWTS’ champ and his pro partner Daniella Karagach perform Sunday night in Rosemont as part of the show’s live tour.

Just days before stepping on the Rosemont Theatre stage as part of the “Dancing with the Stars: Live!” tour, reigning mirror ball champion and former NBA powerhouse Iman Shumpert decided to step onto a basketball court.

“My old high school was facing off against Lyons Township, which has always been one of our basketball rivals, so I was able to poke my head in for a little bit,” the onetime Oak Park River Forest High School star says. “It was so cool to be there.”

And, yes, OPRF did bring home the win, following in the tradition Shumpert has been living since graduating from the school in 2008.

“The biggest thing is seeing how small things seem now,” says the 31-year-old powerhouse, who came home with an NBA championship as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. “I kind of forgot the height of a high school kid, the weight of a high school kid and how animated they are. I’m the old guy now.”

With age comes perspective.

“I saw my [retired No. 32] jersey hanging up [in the fieldhouse rafters], and I’m reminded that me coming back through is not only doing something for me but is also inspiring for them,” Shumpert says. “They see me and say to themselves, ‘Man, there’s somebody that did it in the same soil as me.’ Whenever I come back, there is this pure energy that reminds me that I come home for me, too.”

Shumpert has spent most of his life in the spotlight, from professional sports to starring in the E! reality show “We Got Love Teyana & Iman” to his Season 30 win on “Dancing with the Stars” last year. But staying grounded is something he learned long ago.

David Polston
“Dancing with the Stars” champions Daniella Karagach and Iman Shumpert (shown during a Season 30 performance) are among the cast of the “Dancing with the Stars: Live!” tour, arriving in Rosemont on Sunday night.

“I don’t think that Oak Park gets enough credit for the type of kids that are around that town,” he says. “I think that we got the best of both worlds, where we got a version of suburb life and inner-city life. It made us strong.”

That certainly helped Shumpert make his own bit of history last year as the first NBA player to win the long-running TV dance competition show. Now, he’s ready to celebrate.

“It’s going to be cool to let [pro partner] Daniella [Karagach] see a little bit of where I’m from and why I act the way I am,” Shumpert says of returning to Chicago with the “Dancing with the Stars” tour. “I want to get her some real Chicago-style pizza. All people think we have is deep-dish, but I want to get her some real, thin-cut, square-cut pizza.”

After putting down some pizza, Shumpert says he can’t wait to get back in front of a Chicago crowd.

“Once the curtain opens, it’s always been like a ‘go get it’ sort of feeling for me,” he says. “I don’t even like doing performances where I’m not a little amped-up. I kind of need that nervousness right before in order to give a good performance. But, yeah, I have a lot of confidence knowing I got Daniella with me because even the times that I might have messed up or not been as good on a step, I’ve watched her enhance it and correct it. The audience won’t even know I messed up.”

Shumpert says it’s also good to be in Chicago to see old friends.

“I’m still hanging with all my same high school guys that I came to the OPRF game with,” Shumpert says. “But now we sit on the side, or we try to stand in the student section. But, yeah, we stand out.”

Can he envision moving back to Chicago for good?

“It’s freezing here, so my wife won’t go for it,” the father of two says of superstar-spouse Teyana Taylor.

The family now lives in Atlanta.

“She says, ‘I don’t want my feet wet, and I don’t want to get sick. And, if I want to wear my jacket, it’s going to be for fashion, not because I’m cold,’ ” Shumpert says. “But being here, I don’t even think twice about it. It’s the cost of living in Chicago. It’s where I grew up.”

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