Before Larry Bird orchestrated one of the best college careers of all time at Indiana State University, he dropped out of two schools in 5 months. Bird, who grew up in a poor family, was first enrolled at Indiana University and then shifted to Northwood Institute less than a month later. His time in both those schools wasn't fruitful merely because he had a tough time supporting his education and couldn't adjust to being exposed to such a huge environment.
Money was the biggest factor
The biggest hurdle in Bird's life growing up was that his parents couldn't support him financially. His mother Georgia Bird had to work throughout the day as a chef to make ends meet, while his dad Joe Bird was a retired Korean war veteran who suffered from alcohol addiction. His parents eventually divorced, and then one day, Joe picked up a shotgun and ended his life. Larry had to live through that trauma growing up and the hardship of his parents not having enough money to help him stay in college.
"My parents couldn't afford to give me any money," Bird said, as narrated by Indianapolis. "So I wanted to sit out a year and work, and then go to college. But it didn't happen that way," Bird added. "My decision to leave wasn't that I wanted to leave, it was that I felt like I had to leave."
If he wasn't in school, Bird worked several jobs at once. He was a garbage collector, carpenter, and gasoline station personnel all at once. Before he decided to take his talents and commit to his third college, specifically Indiana State University, he had to be talked out by the basketball team's assistant coaches to stop wasting his life hanging off the back of a garbage truck.
How Indiana State saved Bird's life and basketball career
When Bird finally committed to the Indiana State Sycamores, he turned his life around. It helped him become more mature and perhaps realize that he couldn't throw his basketball talent away no matter what he was going through. He took the bold risk to get back to college basketball, resulting in one of the best NCAA careers in history.
During his time with the Sycamores, Larry averaged 30.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. He led them to an outstanding 81-13 record and their first NCAA tournament appearance in school history, where he faced Magic Johnson and Michigan State.