‘Big Baby' Not As Large

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The shy, pudgy kid, the seventh-grade locker room guest of Collis Temple III, couldn't even look LSU coach John Brady in the face.

Thirteen-year-old Glen Davis, all 240 pounds of him, timidly approached Brady and embarrassed Temple.

"Raise your head, son, and look at him while you shake coach's hand," said Temple, the former Tigers guard.

So, Davis popped up his head and stretched out his large hand. More than seven years later, Davis bursts into laughter, recalling the awkward moment. The dozen reporters surrounding Davis at the SEC Basketball Media Days chuckle as well, especially when Davis guesses Brady's first impression of him.

"I don't think he liked me," Davis said. "I wouldn't have."

Brady scoffed when told of Davis' prediction, refusing to acknowledge or disagree.

"All I can say is, I like him now," Brady said.

Hard not to. Davis, the reigning SEC Player of the Year, turned down millions of dollars by coming back to Baton Rouge, La., this season instead of entering the NBA Draft. Additionally, the 2004-05 SEC Freshman of the Year committed this past offseason to shedding weight.

Davis, known since arriving at LSU as "Big Baby," had ballooned up to 328 pounds by last April. And by the time the Tigers took on UCLA in the Final Four, Davis' conditioning had become an issue. He struggled to get up the court. He couldn't jump as high. He tired quicker. So after LSU's loss, he decided to get serious about getting in better shape. Because, most importantly, the former running back at University High in Baton Rouge felt like he'd let down his teammates.

"I just knew, right then, that I had to be stronger mentally about losing pounds," Davis said.

Right after the season ended, Davis increased his running time. He cut down his portion size when eating. And, as he couldn't do in past years, he refused to give in to temptation — whether that meant sitting on the couch or eating ice cream or quitting before finishing his sprints.

That mental toughness resulted in the loss of 32 pounds. Now, at 296 pounds, Brady sees a new side of Davis, an even more versatile post player.

"You can see he runs the floor better," Brady said. "It's helped him in so many areas. He's always had great quickness, but now he just runs better and has more stamina."

Discussion of Davis' slimmer frame brought back more memories for Brady, who used to drop by University High up to three times a week to have lunch. Brady, somewhat sarcastically, said it was to spend quality time with his daughters, who were Davis' classmates. But the Tigers' 10th-year coach always seemed to find his way to Davis' table. The massive amounts of food in front of Davis used to bewilder Brady. He got the same perplexing feeling this fall when he saw Davis had actually followed through on his promise to drop under the 300-pound mark.

"It just shows that he's maturing," Brady said.

Much more mature now than the "fatboy" — as Davis called himself — that Brady encountered in his locker room seven years earlier.

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