Larry “The Hick from French Lick” Bird was born on December 7 th, 1956 in West Baden, Indiana. Larry grew up in French Lick, Indiana, which was a very sparsely populated region with only a couple hundred people living in the rural area, this is where he started playing basketball at the very late age of 13. From then on, he practiced and worked hard every day after school and even went to the gym to practice before school because he had a deep passion and drive to be the best at his sport. He started for his High School Varsity team, Springs Valley Blackhawks High School, which combined the 2 small towns of French Lick and West Baden Indiana. Although Larry was destined for greatness in his basketball career, he grew up living a tough a depressing childhood as his dad, Joe Bird, committed suicide (some think it was an alcohol related issue) while Larry was just 18 years old. His mom was left with very little money in a small house, where she had to work a daily job and take care of her 4 kids; Mike, Mark, Linda, and Larry. The family had lived in poverty for a while, so sometimes Larry’s Mom would have them go live with their Grandmother until she could straighten things out. He left Springs Valley High School as the All-Time Leading scorer on the Varsity Basketball team which still stands today, a 37 year record.
He went on to play college basketball at Indiana State University, where he got a full ride scholarship and in 1979 in his senior season, he played in the NCAA basketball National Championship (only to lose) against his future NBA rival and friend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans. The Indiana State Sycamores still finished 33-1 that season. After his final year of collegiate basketball, Bird won the AP College Player of the Year Award, Naismith Award, Wooden Award, Oscar Robertson Trophy, Adolph Rupp Trophy, and the NABC Player of the Year. Eventually, after 3 seasons at Indiana Sate, leaving as their All-Time leading Scorer, The NCAA’s 5 th All Time leading scorer, and averaged 30.3 points a game over 3 seasons, he finally entered the 1979 NBA draft. The Boston Celtics took the 6”9” 220 lb. Forward 6 th overall in the first round. After his first season in the NBA, Bird had already improved their team drastically, winning them 40 more games, and a playoff birth. Bird won honors for 1979-1980 Rookie of the Year. From then on, in his 13 year NBA career, little did the world know that they were about to experience one of the greatest legends to ever step foot on a basketball court.
3× NBA Champion (1981, 1984, 1986) 3× NBA Most Valuable Player (1984–1986) 12× NBA All-Star (1980–1988, 1990–1992) 2× NBA Finals MVP (1984, 1986) 9× All-NBA First Team (1980–1988) All-NBA Second Team (1990) 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1982–1984) NBA Rookie of the Year (1980) NBA All-Rookie First Team (1980) NBA All-Star Game MVP (1982) 3× Three-point Shootout champion (1986–1988) NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team #33 retired by Boston Celtics NBA Coach of the Year (1998) John R. Wooden Award (1979) Naismith College Player of the Year (1979) AP National Player of the Year (1979) Oscar Robertson Trophy (1979) Adolph Rupp Trophy (1979) NABC Player of the Year (1979) Career statistics: Points 21,791 (24.3 ppg): Assists 5,695 (6.3 apg): Rebounds 8,974 (10.0 rpg)
1) Regarding his Dad’s Suicide: “He called Mom up and told her what he was going to do. I don’t know exactly how that conversation went. Anyway, the police came back. He got off the phone, took a shotgun and killed himself. Grandma and Grandpa were in the house at the time, but they didn’t know what happened at first. When you live in the country, you hear hunters and you hear different sounds all the time. But the police came in and asked for Joe and there he was.” This was a crucial part in Bird’s life because he had do deal with the crisis and depression of his dad’s death at such an early age, and it left a lot of struggles and pressure with Larry’s mother because she was left with no husband, very little money, a small house, and 4 kids.
2) Regarding being drafted into the NBA: “I was out playing golf in Santa Claus, Indiana, when a man came up to me on one of the fairways and told me the Celtics had taken me sixth in the draft. I said ‘What’s that mean?’ He said, ‘I don’t know. Watch the evening news’.” This was another important and significant point in Larry’s life because it meant that he would become a professional basketball player that would make money off a salary. Overall, this meant that he could finally help financially support his family, mainly his mom.
Bird, Larry, and Bob Ryan. Drive: the Story of My Life. New York: Doubleday, 1989. Print.
In conclusion, this book is a great read for anyone who wants an informational biography that they won’t want stop reading. As a fellow basketball player, I could relate to his passion for basketball. I understood some of his hardships, and also the tough and frustrating times he was going through throughout his basketball career. Even if you’re not that big of a basketball fan or follower, you’ll still love the book because it doesn’t just focus on his basketball career, he also spent a large part of the book writing about the main points and topics that went on in his life outside of basketball. Lastly, his life is just so impressive that it’s interesting to read about. His book is accurately titled ‘Drive’, because that’s what he brought to the game, the drive to be a legend.