Four Fantastic Facts About Four NBA Superstars
NBA superstars are able to do things on a basketball court that leave audiences speechless. Their talents are undeniable, and their performances are able to garner enough conversation on their own. However, believe it or not, NBA players have stories outside of the basketball court, too. The following are four facts that you may have never known about four of the best players to ever set foot on a basketball court.
- LeBron Lived With His 4th-Grade Coach
- MJ Got Cut From the Varsity Team
- Dr. Shaq Really Is a Doctor
- Kobe Spoke Fluent Italian
1. LeBron Lived With His 4th-Grade Coach
When LeBron James was in fourth grade, his mother, Gloria, spent one week in jail for crimes like disorderly conduct and trespassing. Because of this, LeBron was so ashamed that he didn't want to be seen at school. In total, he missed 82 days of school that year. His absence from school, however, did not go unnoticed.
LeBron James's PeeWee football coach, Frankie Walker, heard stories of LeBron missing school on a regular basis. After realizing the extent of the situation, Walker approached Gloria James to discuss it. Gloria admitted that LeBron needed a stable living environment in order to improve his attendance and overall living situation. Because of this, they agreed to have LeBron move in with Frankie Walker and his family.
Life in Coach Walker's House
LeBron was treated the same as Walker's own three children. He was required to finish daily chores and other household duties that the other children were also required to do. His time living with the Walkers proved to be a success, as the next year, LeBron received the school's attendance award for attaining perfect attendance throughout his fifth grade school year.
LeBron lived with the Walkers for eighteen months before moving back in with his mother. However, financial problems made it difficult for Gloria to care for him, and he returned to the Walker family. Eventually, the Walkers decided to help Gloria pay for her rent so she could live with her son again.
Frankie Walker and his son Frankie Walker Jr. remained very close in LeBron's life, as the two boys regularly played on a basketball team together. The love and support of Coach Walker had a very powerful and lasting impact on LeBron's life.
2. MJ Got Cut From the Varsity Team
One of the more popular stories that you may or may not know is the story of Michael Jordan getting cut from his high school varsity basketball team. Jordan references this story often as the foundation of the motivation that led him to become the greatest player in the NBA.
As a sophomore, Michael Jordan joined about 50 other members from Emsley A. Laney High School on the court in an attempt to fill one of 15 open varsity roster positions. When the list came out stating the names of those who made the varsity roster, Jordan's name was nowhere to be found. He had been cut from the varsity team. To add insult to injury, another sophomore and close friend, Leroy Smith, made the team as the loan sophomore representative.
From Devastation to Motivation
After seeing the list, Michael Jordan went home, ran into his bedroom, and cried. He was devastated and embarrassed. However, instead of letting the situation keep him from pursuing his love of basketball, he used it as motivation to prove his worth on the court.
Though he was cut from the varsity basketball team, that did not mean he was unable to play basketball for his school during his sophomore year, as many misunderstand the story. Instead, he was placed on the junior varsity team. There, he made his name known, and he sent a statement to the head coach of the varsity team. Jordan was playing with a chip on his shoulder, and scoring 30 points was the norm for him; he also had multiple 40-point performances. Crowds showed up simply to watch this young sophomore light up the scoreboard for a junior varsity team.
Jordan's efforts won him a starting role on the varsity team his junior year, where he was the best player on the team in both his junior and senior years. He had some of the best statistical numbers in the country and was named a McDonald's All-American for his amazing play.
3. Dr. Shaq Really Is a Doctor
That's right, Shaquille O'Neal is a doctor. In 2012, O'Neal received his doctorate in education from Barry University.
O'Neal left Louisiana State University early, when he declared for the NBA draft. That decision worked out quite well for him, as O'Neal would become one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA. However, despite leaving early, O'Neal still valued his education, as he promised his mother he would return to school to finish his bachelor's degree.
In 2000, eight years after O'Neal left college for the NBA, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in General Studies from LSU. Then, in 2005, he earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Finally, in 2012, O'Neal received his doctorate degree in education from Barry University. In his four years of study at Barry University, O'Neal accumulated a 3.81 grade point average. Call him Dr. Shaq.
4. Kobe Spoke Fluent Italian
Ok, so he wasn't exactly Italian, but Kobe Bryant had a great history with Italy. When he was six years old, Bryant's family moved to Rieti, Italy. The move was made in order for Joe Bryant, Kobe's father, to play professional basketball in Italy, after he had been traded around the NBA for years.
In Italy, Kobe Bryant learned to speak Italian fluently. Though basketball was always his first love, he also developed a passion for soccer. He played soccer often and fell in love with AC Milan, an Italian professional soccer team. Throughout his life, Bryant followed AC Milan and played soccer as a hobby.
Though his Italian wasn't perfect, Bryant was able to communicate in the language confidently. He showed his Italian talents on multiple occasions, including short interviews, at charity events, and with journalists and reporters. He also put his soccer skills on display in a visit to Paris Saint Germain F.C., a professional French soccer team, where he played with the likes of famous soccer star Neymar.
© 2017 Micah Reum