When Larry Bird was in high school, his parents didn’t watch most of his basketball games at Springs Valley High School in French Lick. Despite being a promising young player, the Birds weren’t fully set on Larry making it to the NBA.
They perceived basketball as a side gig — something Larry excelled at, but at the same time, something Larry wouldn’t make a livelihood out of. It even reached a point where Larry’s dad Joe, a Korean war veteran, had to be summoned to watch his games in high school.
Boston Glove’s Dan Shaughnessy revealed in his excellent profile on Bird published in 2001 that Joe had to be called in the middle of the game to watch Larry on the night he scored 54 points. According to Bird, his family didn’t have a car (which speaks volumes about how they were brought up), so Joe had to walk from his house to the arena in the middle of the game.
“There was one night when I had a helluva game going. I had 30-something points in the first half and people were thinking I was going to break the Orange County record. My dad was at home. He didn’t go to many games. Well, my uncle called him at halftime and said, ‘You’d better get down here. Your boy is going to do it tonight.’ We didn’t have a car, but he walked over. I ended up with 54 points and 38 rebounds,” Bird told Shaughnessy.
Bird, who’s known as the greatest basketball player from Indiana state, had himself one hell of a high school career. He tallied 1,125 career points in high school and averaged 30.6 points and 20.5 rebounds as a senior, which paved the way for him to be a prestigious member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. One of the most memorable nights in his young career was when he broke the Orange Country record, scoring 54 points and grabbing 30 rebounds.
Unfortunately, Larry’s parents Joe and Georgia, divorced in 1974 while Larry was in high school. It was a tough time for him, and it didn’t help that his father had a drinking problem and resorted to suicide to end his life. This is probably one of the reasons why Larry legend was an introvert and closed off towards the people around him as he became an adult.
Larry had his fair share of traumatic moments during his teenage life, but that didn’t stop him from pursuing basketball and eventually turning his family’s livelihood around. Bird’s father may have been absent, but at the very least, his mother, Georgia, took great care of him and was supportive as he became one of the best basketball players in history.