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Hoop Group Blog: What Makes Larry Bird a Role Model for Aspiring Basketball Players

By Kaitlyn Fedor

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Recently, in his home state of Indiana, basketball icon Larry Bird was honored with a bronze statue, placed just outside the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis beside 15 other famous sport figures. Many may wonder why the former Boston Celtic and Pacers Head Coach would be seen as a role model for kids. By scratching the surface of his biography, we can see why the story of Bird, who played college basketball at Indiana State, offers a different view of the typical basketball player.

Growing up in French Lick, Indiana, Bird spend much of his early life involved in basketball skills training, much like the instructional camps we offer at Hoop Group. Youth basketball training may have changed over the years, but talent still rises to the top, just as Bird did when he was chosen for a scholarship at Indiana University. Unfortunately, Bird believed life on campus was too different from his hometown, and he returned home to work and support himself and his family.

The family struggled financially, as Bird and his five siblings were brought up by a single mother after his father, a Korean War veteran, completed suicide. After finding a home at Indiana State University, Bird led the Sycamores to their first NCAA tournament in one of the most famous basketball stories of all time. After deciding to play college basketball, Bird found himself drafted sixth overall in the 1978 draft by the Boston Celtics, where he would become a basketball icon. However, he first finished his final year of eligibility at Indiana State University, where the team reached the NCAA Championship Game. Bird would not actually appear for the Celtics until the 1979 season, when he had completed what he saw as his obligation to play four years with his college team. Bird retired from playing in 1992, and later returned home to Indiana to coach the Pacers.

Following in the footsteps of someone like Larry Bird takes both talent and hard work. Basketball stories of the best sort seem to follow Bird, as he won two Olympic gold medals 15 years apart and three NBA Championships. By using basketball skills training to improve his early skills and showing his heart and dedication for the game, he became one of the best-known players to ever appear in the NBA.