At 6’10”, Wizards big man Ronny Turiaf has the natural size and ability for the NBA. But basketball wasn’t always his sport of choice.
Turiaf grew up on the French island of Martinique, and his family made sure he stayed out of trouble by occupying his time with various athletic activities.
“I used to be a swimmer,” he told us. “I remember my dad forcing me to go to swimming lessons. I was a pretty active kid and it was easier for them to get me out of the house.”
He also played soccer, and Turiaf explained that his athletic prowess is genetic.
“My dad was a big handball player,” he said. “I was born, so he couldn’t be a professional player. I’ve got to give him credit for that. He raised me instead of going abroad to play professional handball.”
Turiaf didn’t play organized basketball until he was 14 years old, when his size became more of a problem than an asset.
“One summer, my dad decided to have me stop playing soccer because I was getting too tall and it was getting difficult to play because people [were] accusing me of cheating,” remembers Turiaf. “So he said ‘For you not to deal with that wherever you go, why don’t you go and play basketball.’”
It was a wise suggestion -- one that clearly worked out for him.