People: Twins Amen and Ausar Thompson Made NBA History Together – Now They’ll Adjust to Living Apart (Exclusive)

The identical twins — who made history going back-to-back in the NBA Draft — open up about their journey to the league in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

Identical twins Amen and Ausar Thompson made history when they became the first brothers selected in the Top 5 — and back-to-back — in an NBA Draft.

Before they begin their professional careers and get their first experiences living apart, the 20-year-old twins talk about their brotherly bond, how they’ll adjust to being apart and more in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

For the brothers, the 2023 NBA Draft is the culmination of a shared dream — and a first for the league with their back-to-back selections at fourth and fifth overall. They’ve been waiting for this moment since they were young boys with big hopes.

Of their many similar characteristics, the 6’7″ twins share a gentle demeanor, an unwavering work ethic and a sneaky sense of humor.

Still, Ausar says they’re “the exact opposite” of their personalities off the court. “On the court, I’m more aggressive, and Amen has a stone-cold face. In real life, it’s the exact opposite.”

Ausar is best described as “a laid-back softie,” according to Amen, the older twin by a single minute.

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The elder Thompson twin tells PEOPLE he and Ausar share a similar sense of humor, although it’s Ausar who is “definitely more serious in real life.”

Neither twin can agree on which one of them is funniest – Amen swears a poll conducted by their peers in an attempt to settle the matter ruled in his favor – but both agree that their older brother Troy Jr. is the least comically gifted of the Thompson boys. “It was so funny. He said he was the funniest but he’s the least funny by far,” Ausar teases.

Amen jumps in: “He fully believed he was the funniest one and he had literally one vote.”

Best friends and confidants, the boys have been virtually inseparable since birth. Next, Amen will relocate to Houston to play for the Rockets and Ausar to Detroit with the Pistons while their next chapter begins.

They’ve been preparing for basketball’s biggest stage since childhood in San Leandro, California, where they were raised, along with their older brother Troy Jr., by mother Maya and father Troy, who gave them the same middle name: XLNC (pronounced “excellence”).

From third grade through sixth, the twins competed against each other in a local Boys & Girls Club league. “My earliest basketball memory,” says Amen. “His team wasn’t that good.” Ausar interjects: “We won the championship!”

Stars on the varsity squad at Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the Thompsons took an unconventional next step on their journey to the league: foregoing college in favor of Overtime Elite, an Atlanta-based semipro league that serves as an alternative to the NCAA path to eligibility.

Deciding to sign with the young league was an easy one for the twins, and even more so for their father. “He saw the vision first,” Ausar says, adding that it was the access to the facility’s resources that really drew him in. 

Inside Overtime Elite’s Atlanta facility, located within walking distance of the twins’ shared apartment, players have 24-hour access to three basketball courts. Down the hall, a weight room fit for Dwayne Johnson is equipped with top-of-the-line digital training machines, and one door down from it is a screening room used to review game film. 

NBA stars who spend time in Atlanta during the offseason regularly use Overtime Elite’s facilities. Amen says Anthony Edwards – the first overall pick in 2020’s draft – is a regular face on the court. Less than an hour later, Edwards walks onto the court from a backdoor and begins discretely working with a trainer.

Neither twin felt concerned about missing out on the “traditional” college experience prior to joining OTE, and both credit the league largely for their success. “I feel like OTE gave me more development than I’ve had my whole career,” Amen says.

Ausar says the league allowed him to “reach the next level” as a player during his two years there. As he heads to the NBA, Ausar reflects on what OTE his taught him. “You’re always trying to be perfect. You put that pressure on yourself. You just have to be ready for the moment.”

Starring for OTE’s City Reapers while sharing an apartment, Ausar and Amen averaged 16.4 and 14.7 points respectively last season and won their second championship in May; Ausar won league MVP honors (they voted for each other), and NBA scouts zeroed in on the surefire lottery prospects.

As inevitable as their leap to NBA stardom seems, uncertainty still surrounds how they’ll handle the time away from each other. The twins admit they’ve never spent more than a couple of days apart, and every step along their journey — from the park courts of Oakland to Florida prep school to Atlanta — was taken together.

Amen predicts his brother will be calling him “all the time” when they move to separate cities this summer.

Ausar insists that won’t be the case, citing a hoard of missed calls from Amen during a semi-recent trip he took on his own. “He wouldn’t stop calling me the whole time I was there,” Ausar jokes.

“I think what I’ll miss most is having somebody else to take out the trash and clean the house,” jokes Amen. Ausar responds with mock outrage: “As in the only person who does it.” Amen laughs and gives his brother due credit: “He is a good roommate.” Ausar corrects him: “I’m the G.O.A.T. roommate.”

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