Samuel Maverick was a Texan politician and large landowner.
As a politician he was elected to the first Texan government after Texas became part of the United States.
He owned large amounts of land, possibly well over 100,000 acres of land. Because someone owed him money and had nothing to pay with except cows, he came to own a few cows by accident. He was not particularly interested in them as it was not important business. As a result some of the unbranded cows strayed and were branded by other herd owners. Those cows that were not branded were called mavericks. Even before Samuel Maverick’s death, the word was common. In an article on the contemporary cattle trend in 1967, it is stated that “the term maverick which was formerly applied to unbranded yearlings is now applied to every calf which can be separated from the mother cow”.
Within ten years, the idea of being an independent cow was transferred to people to mean individualist, initially in a negatively sense. Appropriately enough, the word was used in this context for the first time in Texas. “We will crush all foes of democracy, especially those independent gentlemen, those political mavericks.”
Today maverick is used almost as a compliment to refer to basketball teams or even relatively independent people.