Even in the Bird family, no one predicted that Larry would become one of the all-time great basketball players. Before he grabbed a basketball, Larry was the complete opposite of the player we all know from all the legendary fights and trash-talking stories. It seems like basketball unleashed that competitive, ruthless killer inside him. But why was that competitive spirit there to begin with?
Larry Bird put French Lick on the map
Coming from a small town in French Lick, Indiana, no one thought that a blonde-headed boy would go on to become an all-time great. Even Larry Bird’s mother admitted being surprised at how things worked out. The community might be small and unassuming, but everyone knew the Bird family. Even though they were that famous, no one bugged Larry and asked for an autograph. That town is his home, and people knew it, so they gave him privacy and respect.
Georgia called her son “a good boy,” “loving boy,” and a “very quiet boy.” When you see the Boston Celtics legend, these may sound like the most inaccurate descriptions because he built a reputation as one of the fiercest trash talkers in the league during his time.
Larry Bird became “Mr Clean”
Georgia revealed something no one would ever guess – the 12-time All-Star’s nickname back home is “Mr Clean.” Turns out The Legend is somewhat of a clean freak.
“I don’t know if I should say this or not, but we gave him a nickname “Mr. Clean.” Not many people know that. He’d go out and play and he’d come back in and he’d take a shower and change clothes. He could not stand to be dirty. He had to be clean.”Georgia Bird, AllBasketballTV
Young Larry spent a lot of time playing ball because Georgia admitted they had little of what other children had growing up. So, it was sports and family for Larry, and it showed later in his career after playing professional basketball. His determination to show up for work every day and be the best guy out there came from his blue-collar father.
“One thing I got from my father was his determination to go to work no matter what. I’ve never seen him cry about being sick. Even when I got injured, I never see him say, “Well, we gotta miss work tomorrow.” Even if I have an injury I try to play through it.”Larry Bird, AllBasketballTV
In the interview, Bird confessed his hardworking parents inspired him, and that may be why he always showed up and performed no matter what. In Bird’s time, load management did not exist. Players who grew up poor had that determination to play, win and earn their salary. It’s a stark contrast to today’s players, where anyone could choose games to play in, in hopes of preserving health for the Playoffs.
It’s nice to know of stories like these coming from very close to legends such as Larry Bird. Often, fans can only see what’s on-screen and on the court but rarely have a glimpse of what happens behind the camera and off the court. Personal stories like this make superstars like Larry more human, and we should thank Georgia Bird for sharing something personal and special.