Read this name out loud – Steven Colbert. You probably pronounced it like it’s a french name. Well, up until the TV host moved to Chicago, it was pronounced like an Irish name. His father wanted to change the pronunciation but “lacked the pretentious gene that I have said,” Colbert said. Colbert told the story of changing it many times.
Every time I hear that story, Shane Battier immediately comes to mind. I always assumed he was from New Orleans. Every time I hear a french sounding name, my mind just goes there – he’s from Louisiana. Then I googled him and turns out he is from Birmingham, Michigan. So, maybe there’s a Canadian connection there?
As it turns out, the story weirder than that. While in China in 2011 he talked about his name and how he came to be a Battier (via SLAM):
“My dad, Eddie Battle, born Eddie Battle, on his birth certificate, whoever wrote it down wrote B-A-T-T-scribble-scribble-scribble. So my dad grew up Eddie Battle his entire life, and then he joined the army when he was of age, the army recruiter actually had his own interpretation of what was on the birth certificate. They wrote down B-A-T-T-I-E-R. So the first day in the army, my dad says ‘Private Battle reporting for duty.’ The sergeant said, ‘There’s no Battle, there’s a Battier [ed. note: pronounced ‘batty-er’].’ So my dad says, ‘That’s not my name.’ The sergeant says, ‘Well Uncle Sam says it is.’ So my dad kept it.”
Battier does stand out, but Battle would look amazing on a jersey. Well, that resolves the name change, but just like Colbert, there was still the issue of how do you pronounce the new name Uncle Sam decided to give you?
“So he was Eddie Battier [still ‘batty-er’], and he met his wife, my mom, in ’75 and she said, ‘It looks French. We’ll call it French.’ So from that point on they were Battier [bat-ee-ay]. So I’m a first-generation Battier.”
So we got NBA champion, Shane Battier, first of his name.