I, as a former professional basketball player, am what you would expect—a tall man. I’m 6’10.” I shrink every time somebody asks me that; I used to be 7’2.”
Most folks will probably be surprised by this statement, but there is a lot of responsibility with being tall. You’ve always got to play basketball, and I’m black-- so I really have to play basketball.
People always say things like, “What are you doing with all of that height?” if they can’t figure out that I played basketball or if they don’t recognize me. I’ve been asked too many times about what I’m doing with all my height.
I’m just living life, bro. I’m just taller than you.
As a tall man you have to be strong, and you have to be social, too. Nobody likes the angry, tall dude—especially the angry, tall, black dude.
It’s different when you are white, black, Asian— there are different degrees of tall that come with little weird customs depending on different ethnicities and countries. As for my experience being a tall, black man in America-- it’s a lot of responsibility.
If you are not in the NBA, they act like you did something wrong. Or there’s something wrong with you if you didn’t like basketball. It’s a lot of responsibility-- but you’re allowed to be grumpy because that gets old real fast.
I do get asked from time to time about my height and if I was in the NBA in public—and I used to react horribly.
I hate to be interrupted, and I’m a real private person. Generally, if you pay attention to people when you walk in a room, you know who’s open to talking. It should be obvious that I am not one of those people—especially if I’m sitting down for a meal with my family or if I’m just with one of the kids.
But people want to walk up and ask all that tall jazz or about the NBA anyway and don’t care how my day’s going or that I’m sitting down with family.
I just came back from a vacation where people were like touching me. I’d have my back to them, and they’d be touching me, grabbing me, wanting me to turn around so that they could ask me how tall I am. They didn’t ask me how I’m doing or introduce themselves—wouldn’t most people be pissed if that happened?
But when that happens, I don’t want to come across wrong. When you do what we do here at Officialize-- speak up for athletes – I can’t snap back at ‘em. I can’t be the angry, tall, Frankenstein guy screaming, “I’m a man!”
I have to understand what I represent and how I represent athletes. But it takes work to develop that kind of understanding, patience, and tolerance.
When you are tall-- traveling, walking through doors, and low ceilings—there’s nothing you can do.
Traveling is going to suck until you get on a personal jet, but even those are small. I’ve been on a couple that had no room. The best thing you can do is just pay attention.
Many tall people learn to react instinctively; their bodies start ducking without even thinking about it. But you have to get there which means you have to bang your head and get your knees bent up sometimes.
Yes, I did have to invest in a serious bed because of my height. It’s a little bit bigger, a little more luxurious, and whatever snake oil they say the bed does. But a good bed can go a long way towards helping with back problems.
At home-- we do have a bigger bathtub, and our shower head is up a little higher. We do have higher doors; we did make some tall man adjustments on the house. Although the body does autocorrect and duck for you, it’s nice when you don’t have to or need to fold into places.
People always want to know if my kids are going to be tall—man, I don’t know. Their medical charts say they're tall, but my mother was 5’9” and my dad was 6-foot. I’m pretty sure when my folks got my chart back in 1977 it didn’t say I was going to be 6’10”.
I just believe that if you eat right, genetics will take care of the rest and your kids will be however tall they need to be. But they don’t need to be tall at the end of the day; they just need to be healthy.
If anyone taller or shorter than the average person wants my advice on living life—just be you. You are small or tall for a reason. I tell people who are short and wish they were tall that short is a state of mind. You can be the smallest person in the office space or in the gym, but you can have a big spirit and personality that can overcome things like height.
You have to be comfortable just being you; short, tall, endomorph, ectomorph—whatever. It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, green, or yellow. You have to be comfortable being you and being the best version of you.
Honestly-- at the end of the day, height only really matters in Lamborghini’s. You can’t be a tall dude and fit in a little ass sports car (unless you customize it)