Muggsy Bogues, Unstoppable in the NBA as the Shortest Player at 5’3″
Tyrone ‘Muggsy’ Bogues dreamt of being a professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, at 5 foot 3 inches, his chances were remote. The NBA is renowned for its tall players, with the average height of players being approximately 6 feet 7 inches. Muggsy however, was undeterred, he was unstoppable and determined to secure a lucrative career in the NBA. The absence of several inches of height would not be the determining factor that prevented him from achieving his dreams. Muggsy’s journey to becoming a professional basketball player was by no means easy. As well as having to overcome his physical limitations, he grew up in poverty and witnessed his father go to prison.
The Early Years
Tyrone ‘Muggsy’ Bogues was born 9th January 1965 in Baltimore, Maryland to Richard and Elaine Bogues and was the youngest of 4 children. He had 2 brothers, Richard and Anthony and sister Sherron. He grew up in the housing projects on the east side and was surrounded by drugs and violence. A distraction from his surroundings was the basketball he received one Christmas from his godmother. Despite the cold morning Muggsy went out and played. He and the other local neighbourhood boys often practiced slam dunks using an open bottomed milk crate hanging off a fence. Amongst his neighbourhood friends were future NBA players Reggie Williams and David Wingate. Tyrone got his nickname ‘Muggsy’ from his neighbour mates from his style of physical playing.
At the age of 10, Muggsy stopped growing and he soon realised that he was unlikely to have any further growth spurts as his parents were fairly short. Constantly being the shortest player he knew he had to prove himself on the court and became fearless as a player. At the age of 12 Muggsy’s father was charged with armed robbery and sent to prison. Muggsy acknowledged that he was not proud of his father’s actions but accepted that he had acted out of survival.
Muggsy attended Baltimore Southern High School and was fortunate to get a transfer to Dunbar High, which had an exceptional basketball program. During his junior and senior years Dunbar won 59 consecutive games and was ranked one of the top high schools in the United States. Muggsy was voted the most valuable player on the team and in 1983 he enrolled at Wake Forrest University. When he graduated, the school retired his jersey number. In 1987 Muggsy played for the US National team, which won the world championship.
“I never gave up and always pursued my dreams because I had the confidence in myself, I can not stress that enough, how important it is to just believe in yourself and not being afraid to fail.” Muggsy Bogues
Success in the NBA
Muggsy’s dream of playing in the NBA eventuated when he was drafted 12th by the Washington Bullets. Having secured a lucrative contract, Muggsy purchased a car for himself, a house for his mother and paid a lawyer who was able to successfully safeguard the release of his father from jail. Muggsy was later drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in the 92-93 season and helped them play their first NBA play offs and again in 1995. Sadly he suffered a knee injury which saw him side-lined for the 95-96 season however, once he recovered he was able to bounce back. During the 97-98 season Muggsy was traded to the Golden State Warriors where he played for 2 seasons. He later signed as a free agent with the Toronto Raptors and successfully took them to their first playoffs. Next Muggsy was traded to the New YorkKnicks and Dallas Mavericks but he never played a game for either of the teams.
Muggsy never underestimated his abilities and pursued his dreams despite his short stature and is regarded as the shortest player in the history of National Basketball League. He ignored the negative talk of fans from opposing teams and commentators, instead focusing on his unique ball handling skills and could maintain a legal dribble very close to the ground. After retiring from basketball, Muggsy ventured into the real estate business and enjoyed giving back to the community, coaching several youth teams.
“I had to have a tough skin and a strong mind because tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Muggsy Bogues
Dreams are possible when you consistently take action towards your goals. Have a steadfast belief in yourself and shut down the negativity. There will be naysayers along the way but look beyond their pessimism and go for it, knock down the walls, the barriers, do whatever it takes and eventually success will be on your doorstep.