Larry BirdBasketball Player
Born: 7 December 1956
Birthplace: West Baden, Indiana
Best known as: Leader of three Boston Celtics championship teams in the 1980s
Larry Bird rose from modest small-town origins in French Lick and West Baden, Indiana, to lead Indiana State University to the 1979 college basketball finals, then went on to a stellar professional career with the Boston Celtics (1979-1992). His five-year 1979 contract for $3.25 million made him, at the time, the highest-paid rookie in the history of sports. Ungainly and far from sleek, but a well-rounded shooter, rebounder, ball-handler and passer, Larry Bird was a three-time National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player, led three Celtics championship teams, and was a major figure in pro basketball's 1980s rise in popularity. His hard-fought playoff matchups against the Los Angeles Lakers' Magic Johnson remain NBA film classics. Since retiring as a player, Larry Bird has served in the Celtics' and the Indiana Pacers' front offices and was a successful coach of the Pacers for three seasons (1997-2000). His personal life made news in 1998 when his daughter, Corrie Bird, said in an Oprah Winfrey TV interview that she regretted their lack of relationship. Larry Bird was married to Janet Condra from 1975-76, and has been estranged from Condra and their daughter Corrie (born 14 August 1977) ever since. Larry Bird said in his 1989 autobiography, "I've never really known how to handle the situation."
Extra credit: Larry Bird unintentionally created his own nickname shortly after arriving in Boston, when the press learned he had offhandedly called himself "a hick from French Lick"... Larry Bird married Dinah Mattingly on 1 October 1989. They have a son, Connor, and a daughter, Mariah, both by adoption... Magic Johnson led the Michigan State University team that beat Bird's Indiana State team for the 1979 NCAA championship... Johnson wrote the foreword to Bird's 1989 autobiography (written with Bob Ryan), Drive: The Story of My Life.
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