In 1974, Agassi's hometown of Las Vegas hosted the Alan King tennis tournament, attracting a number of big names. But spectators were even more attracted to a four-year-old Andre Agassi hitting topspin forehands. Even
Jimmy Connors came by to witness the young prodigy and hit a few balls with him. In fact, Agassi had started much younger. His father, Emmanuel "Mike" Agassi, an Iranian immigrant, determined to raise a champ, had hung a ball and racquet over Andre's crib and by the age of two, young Agassi could use that racquet to serve the ball.
At age 13, with his father's encouragement, Andre Agassi left regular schooling and moved to Bandentown, Florida, to attend the renowned tennis academy run by Nick Bollettieri, who became Agassi's coach. Despite his early promise, Agassi actually proved to be an average player among the budding stars at the academy, and he began to turn to beer and marijuana to dull some of the frustration. "While he foundered mid-ladder at the academy for three years, trying to live up to the expectations of a father who was disappointed if he didn't win every match, Agassi did distinguish himself in the burgeoning ranks of racket-smashers," according to a Sports Illustrated reporter. Instead of kicking him out, Bollettieri taught him to refocus his energy into his game, channeling his anger into more power on the court.
This seemed to work. By the time Agassi was 16, he had won five United States Tennis Association (USTA) national junior titles. Understandably bored with the junior leagues, Agassi turned pro two days after his 16th birthday. In fact, he'd already signed a contract with Nike, a sign of his appeal to fans and sponsors alike. About this time, he also became a born-again Christian, a decision that caused him to question whether he should abandon his tennis career and focus on something more spiritual. In the end, another player in his bible-study group convinced him to stick with tennis, and Agassi credits his conversion with giving him a more relaxed personality that has actually enhanced his game and his career.