NBA legend Larry Bird is a three-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics and is one of the greatest shooters ever, but he struggled through life along his journey to the NBA.
Here is an overlook of Bird’s life, on and off the court.
“The Hick From French Lick”
For Larry Bird, growing up in West Baden, Indiana, with a population of 2,000 people, called for him to be a fighter.
Bird was born the fourth of six children.
Larry’s Childhood Was Not Hall of Fame-Worthy
Bird grew up with his siblings and parents, Georgia and Joe. The couple stayed married until their divorce while Larry was in high school.
Larry’s father worked in factories before his unfortunate passing.
Larry Struggled With His Parents Divorce
The Bird family struggled before their divorce, with Joe often having to repair the home himself.
For example, Larry and his family would have to stand outside while his father attempted to fix their furnace. It was too smokey to stand indoors.
Bird Was About More Than Basketball In High School
In high school, Larry played many sports before choosing basketball.
Bird also enjoyed playing baseball and softball until he grew from 6′ 3″ his junior year to a 6′ 7″ senior.
Larry Bird And His First Wife Janet Condra
Janet Condra met Larry, and they married after he left high school.
Condra and Bird had one child, a daughter named Corrie, before the couple’s marriage ended after less than a year.
Larry Bird: The Father
Learning from his parents’ work ethic, Bird did whatever he could to have enough money to raise his daughter Corrie.
Larry worked as a garbageman and helped maintain parks and roads.
Bird’s Struggles Off the Court Carried on to the Court
Losing his father and his own divorce were large contributors to Larry’s struggles at Indiana University.
Bird had issues adjusting to campus life and dropped out after only twenty-four days.
Larry Bird and the Indiana State Sycamores
After Larry grew two more inches to 6’9″ and weighed 222lbs, he returned to college, attending Indiana State.
The basketball team nicknamed the Sycamores and Bird went undefeated in 1979.
The Bird and Magic Johnson Rivalry Begins
The Sycamores run lasted until they met Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans for the 1979 N.C.A.A. basketball championship.
Michigan State won 75-64, and Bird scored 19 points, shooting only 7-21.
Bird Almost Held Out Before Draft Day
On June 8th, 1979, the Boston Celtics drafted Larry Bird as the sixth overall pick in the first round.
Celtics’ GM Red Auerbach declared he would not pay Bird more than the average.
Even Before His Hall of Fame Career Began, Bird Was Game
Upon hearing Auerbach’s bold public statement, Larry and his agent decided that he should sit out.
The plan was for Bird to finish his final collegiate year and play ball.
The Boston Celtics’ $3.25 Million-Dollar Man
The danger of Bird re-entering the draft a year later and going number one ultimately convinced Auerbach to sign Larry.
Auerbach signed Bird to a three-year, $3.25 million contract. He was going to play for the Celtics.
Larry Bird’s Second Wife Dinah Mattingly
Dinah Mattingly became Larry’s second wife when they were married in 1989.
The couple started dating after the end of his first marriage. The couple’s two children are adopted.
Dinah Mattingly, The “Older” Woman
Dinah is two years older than Larry, and this fact caused drama and controversy early on for the newlyweds.
Mattingly was born in 1954 and raised in Vigo County, Indiana.
A Career Cut Short
Bird had a stellar 13-year NBA career which was cut short by nagging injuries.
Larry guided the Boston Celtics to three NBA championships, winning Finals MVP in two of them.
Injuries to Bird shortened what potentially could have been an even more legendary NBA career.
Larry had surgery on both of his heels, back issues, and other injuries before retiring.
Hall of Famer: Larry Bird
Neither Celtics fans nor GM Red Auerbach truly knew how great Bird would be.
Bird was the NBA MVP for three consecutive seasons from 1984-1986 and a twelve-time All-Star in the league.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers’ Rivalry
A rivalry that later became a friendship started in college between Bird and Magic, lasting for over twenty years.
Johnson’s Lakers lost to Bird’s Celtics in the 1986 NBA Finals.
Larry Bird and the “Dream Team”
In 1992, Bird and Magic became teammates on arguably the greatest basketball team ever, the “Dream Team.”
Bird, Magic, and Michael Jordan guided Team U.S.A. to an easy gold medal at the Olympic Games.
Bird’s Last Game Was Not in the NBA
Bird played his last game as a member of the “Dream Team” in 1992.
After retiring, Larry joined the Boston Celtics front office as a basketball consultant for the team.
Introducing Head Coach Larry Bird
After leaving his consulting job with the Celtics in 1997, Bird entered the world of coaching.
Bird returned to his home state of Indiana to coach the NBA Indiana Pacers.
Coach of the Year
Bird coached the Pacers for three seasons from 1997-2000 and was named NBA Coach of the Year in his rookie season.
Larry’s Pacers made it to the 2000 NBA Finals.
Mr. President, Larry Bird
In 2003, Bird became the Pacers’ president of basketball operations.
Bird excelled as president and was the 2012 NBA Executive of the Year. Bird retired as president in 2017.
Larry Bird Owns Many Records, But Only One Unique One
Bird owns a unique NBA record.
He was the only NBA Rookie of the Year, MVP, Finals MVP, All-Star MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year.
Bird Had A Strained Relationship With 1st Daughter Corrie
Larry’s first marriage to Janet ended on bad terms, and his relationship with their daughter Corrie suffered because of it.
Janet raised their daughter after they divorced without Larry’s help.
You Are the Father
Asking for a paternity test did not help Bird ease tensions between Janet and himself.
The paternity test confirmed that Corrie was indeed Larry’s child, but it barely affected him.
Corrie Still Struggles For Larry’s Attention
Larry’s only contribution to Corrie’s life was paying child support as part of the divorce requirements made with Janet.
A bank account was set up for monthly withdrawals until Corrie turned 18.
Corrie Bird: “…I Still Have Hope That He Can Be A Part of My Life”
Corrie has been quite public about her disappointment over Larry’s lack of a relationship with her.
Corrie has moved on but still remains hopeful for a relationship with Bird someday.
Larry’s Spotlight Was Not For Dinah
Dinah did her best to stay out of the limelight, but scandals and controversy would bring her back into it periodically.
Reports of Larry’s infidelity, which he denied, ran rampant.
Larry Bird: The $75 Million Dollar Man
As of 2022, Larry Bird has a net worth of $75 million. Dinah and Larry own several properties and luxury homes.
Dinah herself has accumulated her own net worth from business ventures.