Despite an unusually rainy L.A. day, Scottie Pippen couldn't stop smiling while casually shooting hoops earlier this month.
And the grinning dad — and NBA Hall of Famer — is ready to pass the torch on to his son.
"I'm very proud of him," the 56-year-old tells PEOPLE. "As a father, I can't continue to lead or guide him on the court. At some point, I took my own wings and went and he will do the same."
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Scottie, though, has left quite the shoes to fill for the soon-to-be Laker. First drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1987, the small forward spent 12 seasons with the team, helping them rack up six championship titles. The two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist then joined the Houston Rockets for a year, before ending his career with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2008.
As Scottie grew his family with ex-wife Larsa Pippen, whom he married in 1997 and had four children with along with Scotty Jr. — Preston, 20, Justin, 17, and Sophia, 13 (he also has four kids from other relationships) — he worried about balancing parenting with young kids with the travel-heavy life of an NBA star.
"It was tough," Scottie says. "I didn't want to do it at first."
And because he was so young, Scotty Jr.'s memories of his father's playing days are vague.
"I don't really remember too much of it because he retired when I was about five," Scotty Jr. says. "I remember going to the gym, the Bulls facilities and going to the games, but most of my memories of his career are based off watching his highlights on YouTube with my little brother."
Growing up watching his father be a superstar was fun, Scotty Jr. says, though he always just thought of the Bulls forward as a regular dad.
"I'm just used to people always wanting pictures and autographs from him, so I've been around it my whole life," Scotty Jr. says. "But even when I was in college, we talked every day. He went to all my games."
As his son grew older, Scottie watched him take on the sport he loved, playing at the prestigious Sierra Canyon High School in Los Angeles before continuing on to Vanderbilt University in Nashville for three years before deciding to enter the draft.
"I tried to talk him through it his whole life, just teaching him the game and making him feel like that's the path you're on," the six-time NBA champion says. "You just teach him and hope for the blessing of God and a little luck and things falling in your way, but it's about preparing him for it and hoping and praying it happened."
The Pippens' prayers were answered when Scotty Jr. signed with the Lakers in June as an un-drafted free agent on a two-way contract.
Scotty Jr. went on to impress on the team's NBA Summer League summer squad, averaging 11.8 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 steals per game. And he's motivated to carry on the family name in the big leagues as he strives to make the final roster this fall.
"It's still hasn't hit me yet," Scotty Jr. says of making it to the NBA. "Even when I go to the gym, it still feels like I'm just in college or high school. It doesn't really feel like I'm really here, so I'm soaking it in day by day and still trying to get a feel for it."
And when he signed with the Lakers, in particular, "means a lot."
"It's one of the most historic franchises in the NBA, and being able to go to my hometown team, basically, is a dream come true."
Now living nearby his dad's California home, Scotty Jr. is ready to step out of his father's shadow and forge his own path in the league.
"I want to solidify myself in the NBA," Scotty Jr. says. "Just feeling comfortable as I'm making my name for myself would be the biggest thing."
"He's been wanting to be in the pros and be a part of the NBA family," Scottie proudly adds, looking at his son with a smile. "So he did what it took to get here. The journey's just beginning."
Groomer: Juanita Lyon/Celestine; Scotty Wardrobe: John Elliott