Andre De Grasse flew past fellow Canadian Justin Bieber on his way to the hoop, leaving Bieber in the dust.

De Grasse dropped in a layup with panache, looking like a pro on the Staples Center court that would feature LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant two nights later.

It was February 2018, exactly a year and a half from De Grasse’s first Olympic Games in Rio, where the Canadian collected a silver and two bronze medals for his performances on the track. But on that night, on the hardwood, De Grasse leveraged not his Olympic speed, but his basketball prowess to rack up 17 points in his NBA All-Star Celebrity Game debut.

Long before De Grasse, now 29, became an Olympic champion, before his Canadian records, before his marriage to fellow Olympic medalist Nia Ali and before becoming a father to three, De Grasse was just a high schooler trying to make it in basketball.

Basketball was De Grasse’s “first love” from his fifth birthday until his final year of high school. Basketball is where he honed the athletic gifts that millions have since gawked at on TV. Basketball is where De Grasse became an athlete. Track and field wasn’t even on his radar.

One day during his senior year of high school, young De Grasse was riding the bus with his friend Mikhile.

“I asked him where he was headed,” De Grasse remembers. “He said he was headed up to the track at our local university for practice. He was getting ready for a competition.

“He said, ‘I don’t remember you being very fast. You’re probably not that fast.’ So, we went back and forth a bit.”

Mikhile wanted to test his buddy.

“Hey, why don’t you come out and prove how fast you are?” he asked De Grasse.

De Grasse was in. He approached his high school’s track and field coach and asked for permission to join the upcoming meet. Of course you can, she told him.

There were plenty of spots, and De Grasse could even take his pick of events to compete in. He chose the 100m right away. He wanted to showcase his speed. He wanted to prove Mikhile wrong.

A few days later, on a track in suburban Toronto not far from his school, De Grasse walked up to the 100m starting line, ready to run his first-ever track meet. He bent down, mirroring his competitors. He toed the starting line.

De Grasse looked to his right. He looked to his left. Everyone was wearing professional-looking gear.

“I saw people with spikes, track attire, everything,” he remembers.

De Grasse was wearing his used basketball gear: baggy shorts, Converse shoes. He had no other option.

“I didn’t let that bother me.”

No, he didn’t. De Grasse smoked his competition, winning in a blazing 10.90 seconds. He outran Mikhile — and everyone else.

“[Mikhile] was in shock,” De Grasse says. “He was surprised. I was even surprised at myself. People were asking me, ‘You don’t even run track, how’d you do that?’”

Among those questioning was Canadian track legend Tony Sharpe, a 1984 Olympic bronze medalist. Sharpe was coaching at the Speed Academy Athletics Club. After watching De Grasse’s win, he approached the potential-packed victor.

“Hey bud,” Sharpe told De Grasse. “You have a special talent. I can get you faster and to the next level. Come join my club.”

De Grasse grabbed Sharpe’s card, went home and gave it some thought. It didn’t take long to come up with his answer: Basketball was over for De Grasse. He was off to become Canada’s next great track star.

“I took him up on it,” De Grasse says. “At that point, I was just going with the flow. I wasn’t even thinking about the Olympics. But my coach had big aspirations for me."

“He thought I could be something special. He said, ‘I think you can get a scholarship to a big school. I think you can go to the Olympics one day.’ And now, here I am today.”

Today, De Grasse’s life is unrecognizable to that 17-year-old in the baggy shorts. He’s an international superstar who just qualified for his third Olympic Games. In Paris, De Grasse will represent Canada in the 100m and 200m events as one of the nation’s all-time great sprinters, with six Olympic medals on his résumé.

De Grasse is now stationed with his Canadian teammates just outside of Rome, Italy, where he’s prepping — mentally and physically — for his third go-round at the Olympics.

“At my first Games, I had high aspirations to come back with three Olympic medals, and I did that,” De Grasse says. “Then in Tokyo, I said, ‘Let’s upgrade these medals and get gold.’ I was able to do that.

“So for Paris, I have to think a little bit bigger. I want to come away with another gold, or two golds. Now, I need to perform at my best when it matters.”