Just your average 6-11 deaf Mormon NBA prospect

lanceallred11

By Michael Lewis

As I think Jeff has said before, one of the coolest things about being a sportswriter is getting to meet and interview people who you never would be exposed to otherwise.

As my profession as a newspaperman dies a slow death, and I realize I may have to do something else with my life soon, nights like last night are ones I’m going to miss.

I was at the Orlando Magic practice complex in Maitland, Fla. last night, to do a column on a man named Lance Allred, which can be read here. He was truly unlike anyone I’ve ever met in my life.

Allred grew up on a Fundamentalist Mormon polygamous compound in Montana, and then on one in Utah, until he was 12 years old when his family broke away. (It’s funny; the only time he got even the least bit annoyed during our 30-minute chat was when I asked him about HBO’s “Big Love.” “Big Love,” he replied, “is total junk.” Kinda what I figured he’d say).

Anyway, he also was born deaf, and as a kid a Sunday school teacher told him it was because of sins he committed in a previous life (whoever that teacher was, they should’ve been fired for saying something like that. I mean, come on, you say that to a kid?). Allred eventually started playing basketball, went to Utah to play for Rick Majerus, who told him once he was a “disgrace to cripples.” Nice, right?

Oh yeah, and he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

He made the NBA for a few games, has played overseas, and now is trying to get back to The Show. Interviewing him outside a pro basketball locker room,  I felt like I was in another dimension. He was so smart, and so eloquent, and so funny, and so completely at ease with his station in life, that I literally was shaking my head a few times while I spoke to him. He was just that different from 95 percent of the pro athletes I’ve ever interviewed.

He’s written a book about his life, called Longshot, which can be bought here., and a short interview with Allred on the NPR show “Only a Game,” is here. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Alas, he only played seven minutes in the game last night for the Magic. He’s probably not going to make the NBA again, and he knows it.

But I’ll remember getting to talk to him long after I forget about the star shooting guard for some big-time college. So many of these guys are the same, that when someone is different, they stand out so clearly.

When we were done talking, he grabbed my head as I got up and practically pulled me toward him. He just wanted to thank me so much for taking the time to speak with him.

Let me know the next time Paul Pierce or Dwyane Wade does that.

–M.L.

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