6 Tall NBA Players Who Had Relatively Short Parents

Updated on December 17, 2017

No other sport in the world has height play such a crucial role in your overall success like basketball. With the average height of NBA players being 6'7", there is huge pressure on prospective players to meet certain height requirements. You can be easily overlooked if you are under 6'2". This can be tough on young players with parents who are below 6 feet in height since how tall you are is largely dependent on genetics.

Even though there have been some very short players like Nate Robinson, Muggsy Bogues, and Spud Webb who made it into the NBA, these players possessed athleticism that was out of this world. The truth is that the probability of making it into the NBA if you are under 6 feet is very slim. Below are 6 NBA players who had relatively short parents (not more than 5'10") but were still able to make it past 6'2". There is no doubt that these players' careers would have been different had they not grown as tall as they did.

Michael Jordan hugs his mother Delores as his father James looks on in 1990.
Michael Jordan hugs his mother Delores as his father James looks on in 1990. | Source

1) Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest NBA player of all time. However, the 6'6" former Chicago Bulls star did not come from a family of giants. In fact, none of his immediate family members were above 6 feet in height. His dad was no more than 5'9" and his mom was around 5'5". It is not surprising that Jordan was not very tall during his early years.

At his high school, he played basketball, football, and baseball and had grown to a height of 5'11". This made him taller than his two older brothers. He tried out for the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year, but at 5'11" he was deemed too short to play at that level. This would serve as the motivation he needed to work harder. Michael would later grow to 6'3" the following summer before finally reaching his adult height of 6'6".

Michael had an older cousin who was 6'7" and lived with the family briefly while he was in high school, working on basketball with the younger boys. He probably got his height from his cousin's side of the family. MJ admits that his toughest opponent to date was his brother, Larry Jordan and that Larry could have gone ahead to be a better player than himself had he grown past 5'8".

Jeremy Lin poses with his parents.
Jeremy Lin poses with his parents. | Source

2) Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin is one of the few Asian Americans to play in the NBA, and the first American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play in the league. Being of Asian descent, it is no surprise that both of his parents are under 6 feet tall. His mom and dad both stand at 5'6".

The former Golden State Warriors player has admitted that he used to blame his dad for being short. This was because he stood at only 5'3" when he was 15. Jeremy would eventually reach his adult height of 6'3" and has since apologised to his father.

His maternal grandmother's family was tall, and her father was over 6'0". This may account for where Jeremy got his height from. He was very lucky to have inherited "tall" genes from that side of his family because his two brothers, Joseph and Josh Lin are below 6'0". His younger brother, Joseph Lin, is next tallest at around 5'11" and currently plays in Taiwan's Super Basketball League.

Gordon Hayward with his dad, mum, and twin sister.
Gordon Hayward with his dad, mum, and twin sister. | Source

3) Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward currently plays for the Boston Celtics. He played college basketball at Butler University for two seasons where he led his team to a runner-up finish in the 2010 NCAA Tournament his sophomore season. Hayward was named an NBA All-Star for the first time in 2017.

It had always been the dream of Gordon to play in the NBA since age 5. With his mum and dad both standing at 5’10, this dream seemed bleak. He stood at only 5’11 during his high school freshman year and his doctor had predicted that he was not going to be more than 6’2”. Because of this, he focussed on building the skills that would set him up for success as a guard.

According to sports commentator Pat Forde, Hayward's father "continually pushed his son to develop a guard's skill set," believing he was destined to be of average size. He trained him to be the best ball handler, outside shooter and facilitator he could be. Hayward's unusual skill set was largely the result of his father's misconception about his future growth. Forde refers to Hayward as "The guy who learned how to play like a guard but now has the size of a power forward."

Hayward had even considered quitting basketball entirely to focus on tennis at one point because he knew that a career in the NBA wasn’t likely if he didn’t break out of his 5’11” mold. He and his twin sister, Heather, both starred at tennis and were a fantastic mixed doubles pair. Gordon's first appearance in the sports pages was not in basketball but in tennis. However, his mother persuaded him to stay with basketball one more year.

Some may call it serendipity, others divine intervention. Either way, Gordon had an unexpected growth spurt that changed the course of his career. He shot up to 6'4" as a sophomore and two years after he almost abandoned basketball, he had grown to 6'7" (2.01 m); he reached 6'8" (2.03 m) as a senior and reportedly added another inch at Butler (though the NBA lists him at 6'8"). Suddenly, the kid who was a solid guard had turned into an incredible, unique swingman with a guard skill set. He turned almost into a different player overnight. As his high school coach Joshua Kendrick described, it was “like a kid discovered superpowers.”

Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in an NBA game.
Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in an NBA game. | Source

4) Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most dominant players in NBA history. It is hard to believe that Wilt, who was 7'1", was conceived by parents who were of average height but that was the case. Wilt's dad, William Chamberlain, was only 5'8". His mom, Olivia Ruth Johnson, stood at 5'9".

Olivia Johnson used to tell young Wilt stories of her grandfather who was a farmer and stood at around 7'0". This might explain where Wilt got his unusual height from. The family had "tall" genes because one of his brothers, Wilbert Chamberlain, also grew to 6'5".

The only player to score 100 points in a single NBA game was already 6 feet tall at age 10. He was 6'11" when he entered Philadelphia's Overbrook High School and had a strong advantage over his peers.

Despite his overall dominance, Wilt was very terrible at free-throw shooting. During his career, he missed 5,805 free throws. He used to dunk his free throws and the NCAA and NBA banned crossing the foul line during a shot because of him. Amazingly, he never fouled out of an NBA game.

Moses Malone (left) had significantly smaller hands than Julius Erving despite Malone standing 4 inches taller than Erving.
Moses Malone (left) had significantly smaller hands than Julius Erving despite Malone standing 4 inches taller than Erving. | Source

5) Moses Malone

Moses Malone is regarded as the greatest offensive rebounder of all time. The three time NBA Most Valuable Player who stood at 6'10" had a dad who was only 5'6". His mom stood at a mere 5'2".

Only his hands seemed a result of that union for he had incredibly small hands for a man of 6'10". He could palm the ball but couldn't dunk and control the ball like even so many small guards. Because of this, Tom Nissalke, the Rockets' coach, gave him a series of hand-stretching exercises, like those for a pianist. The same medical anomaly that produced a 6′10″ child from a 5′2″ mother and 5′6″ father gave him his small hands and his teammate Rick Barry once joked that if his hands were proportionate to his body, the league would have to outlaw him. It was probably due to the fact that he had to work extra hard to overcome this limitation which ironically resulted in him being one of the game's best rebounder.

He had reached his full height when he was 19 and was one of the most sought-after college basketball prospects in history. He became the first player to enter professional basketball directly from high school.

Gheorghe Muresan with his two sons, George and Victor.
Gheorghe Muresan with his two sons, George and Victor.

6) Gheorghe Dumitru Mureșan

Gheorghe Dumitru Mureșan is one of the two tallest players in NBA history. The other is Manute Bol and they both stood at 7'7". Mureșan is the tallest man in Romania and is currently the tallest living person in the European Union after the death of Game of Thrones star, Neil Fingleton. Gheorghe did not get his height from his parents. His dad is 5'9" and his mom is 5'7". Manute Bol, on the other hand, came from a family of extraordinarily tall people. Bol's mom was 6'10", his dad was 6'8", and his sister was also 6'8". Manute's great-grandfather was even taller at 7'10". His ethnic group, the Dinka, and the Nilotic people of which they are a part, are among the taller populations of the world.

Gheorghe’s height is the result of a pituitary gland condition. He would probably still be tall if he didn’t have this condition, just not 7'7". Almost immediately after he was selected in the second round of the NBA draft by Washington, he underwent surgery to eliminate the tumor on his pituitary gland.

The former Washington Bullets and New Jersey Nets player didn't start playing basketball until he was 14. He enjoyed playing soccer and was encouraged to try out basketball because he stood at almost 7'0" at that age. His career was unfortunately derailed by injuries.

Gheorghe is married to a Romanian lady called Liliane who stands at 6'1". They have two sons, George and Victor, who also have a love for basketball. His older son George is already 6'8" at 16. His younger son Victor who is only 13 is the same height as his mom Liliane.

Are these the only NBA players who had short parents? I highly doubt so. If you know of any other players, please let me know in the comments section below.

© 2016 C Amoabeng

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      tyler berry 3 days ago

      lebron in 8th grade was 6'1 and later in high school grew to 6'8 around his junior to senior year. his doctor in his freshman year said that he wouldn't be no taller than 6'3 but i guess he beat the odds.

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