For years, Luka Doncic has looked for ways to connect with fans on a deeper level than the average exchanges on social media. Now, he's ready to unveil his solution: a metahuman.
While technological advances haven't been able to completely clone the 6-foot-7 guard, developers at Epic AI believe Doncic's virtual doppelgänger, Luk.AI, may be the next best thing. Epic describes Luk.AI as a "self-learning artificial intelligence capable of emotional, physical, and technological growth."
The virtual version of Luka, created with Unreal Engine 5 technology, will be able to interact, exercise, play and converse with fans via TikTok, which will be his home. Epic says Luk.AI will become smarter and grow by interacting with the TikTok community. Fans will influence his skills, interests and hobbies, in a similar way that social interaction stimulates and shapes our own minds.
Doncic will be the first athlete with a metahuman that will grow as his interactions with fans increase. The only other athlete to utilize the same technology was Tennis Hall of Famer John McEnroe. In an ESPN+ special, "McEnroe vs. McEnroe," the former athlete played against five different virtual versions of himself, beginning with younger versions, from 1979 and ending with 1992.
With Luk.AI, Doncic also hopes to share the same athletic abilities with his virtual alter ego.
"Fans can get to know him and help to make him smarter by engaging with him," Doncic said. "He'll reply to their comments, listen to their ideas and create videos with them, too."
Doncic, 23, has always enjoyed the freedom playing brings. Whether it's spending time playing Overwatch, a pickup game on the basketball court, dancing or practicing trick shots, Doncic is trying to lead by example when it comes to encouraging others to get active and believes Luk.AI will help spread the word.
"Luk.AI is going to help me do more good," Doncic said. "He'll be playing an important role with my foundation -- which is all about the positive role of play for kids -- and he'll be partnering with Mark Cuban's AI boot camps to help teach kids about AI technology. Technology education is so important."
Even during the offseason, Doncic never stopped moving throughout his busy schedule of overseas basketball. Doncic kicked off his summer with a special appearance in Paris at Quai 54, the world's largest streetball tournament. From there, Doncic represented his home country of Slovenia in FIBA EuroBasket 2022 and set the second-highest scoring record in the competition's history, with 47 points against France. His team later fell 90-87 to Poland in the quarterfinals.
"It was a really hard loss for us," Doncic told Malika Andrews on NBA Today.
Now, Doncic is enjoying a moment to breathe before the 2022-23 NBA begins next month.
Last season, the Dallas Mavericks made a surprise playoff run, advancing to the Western Conference Finals under new head coach Jason Kidd. They eventually fell 4-1 to the Golden State Warriors. Shortly after, the team lost guard Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in free agency but gained forward Christian Wood after trading the No. 26 pick in the 2022 NBA draft and four players to the Houston Rockets.
"Talking about JB, he had an amazing season," Doncic told Andrews. "But he worked really hard his four years and he deserves all the money he got. He deserves his spot and I just want to wish him luck and all the best."
During the remainder of Doncic's downtime, he looks forward to helping with the development of Luk.AI -- from his metahuman's stylish fashion sense, courtesy of Jordan, right down to his luxury car that will be used to cruise the virtual streets of his TikTok utopia.
But no worries, Doncic doesn't believe he'll have to compete with fans swooning over the virtual version of himself -- at least he hopes not.
"It's pretty crazy stuff, but it's very cool," Doncic said. "He looks like me, talks like me and has his own personality. But I'm still better looking than him."