Growing up early can make or break a person.

It could have broken Mandy Carter-Zegarowski, who got pregnant in college, yet opted to keep her baby and raise him as a single mother. It could have broken her when, nine months after her son’s birth, her mother died.

And growing up in a single-parent household, an African-American kid in an affluent, mostly white suburb of Boston, could have cracked guard Michael Carter-Williams, who helped lead Syracuse to the Final Four last season.

But it didn’t.

Just the opposite. Carter-Williams, who’s expected to be a top-10 pick in tomorrow night’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center, is more mature than a lot of players who choose to leave college after their sophomore seasons.

“We lived in five apartments in five years,’’ Carter-Zegarowski told The Post. “It wasn’t easy. But I know I’m a stronger person and I think my son is. He learned some hard life lessons early.’’

Most of Carter-Williams’s life lessons were learned on a basketball court, or on the sidelines of one.

His biological father, Earl Williams, with whom he remains close, played at Salem State.

His stepfather, Zach Zegarowski, was a star at UMass-Lowell before becoming a successful assistant coach at Charleston (Mass.) High, the school that was chronicled in the book, “The Assist.”

And Carter-Zegarowski was the girls coach at Ipswich (Mass.) High for a decade.

Some days, Carter-Williams would sit in his stroller with a basketball in his hands, in one gym or another throughout Massachusetts. Other days, he would be fumbling a ball on the sidelines, learning to dribble before kindergarten. Later he would run up and down the sidelines, following Zegarowski’s every move.

“Some kids had stuffed animals growing up,’’ Carter-Williams said. “I had a basketball.”

Carter-Williams initially didn’t have his 6-foot-6 height. He grew six inches in the 18 months after he turned 16.

NBA talent evaluators told The Post Carter-Williams’ potential as an NBA point guard at that height makes him one of the more intriguing prospects in an unpredictable draft.

Zegarowski said the defining moment for Carter-Williams came after his freshman season in high school, when he was getting looks from the Division III likes of Tufts and Wesleyan. He convinced Carter-Williams to attend the Nike Elite 100 camp.

Perky Plumlee, father of Duke’s Mason and Miles Plumlee, approached Zegarowski.