Orlando Antiqua Q&A Part 1

Antigua: "Time goes by fast. I sometimes share the story depending on if the situation warrants it. Obviously, I don't talk a lot about it. It's more about the kids now than me, but if there is an opportunity to share with them some of my experiences if they are going through times and how I was able to deal with it, I do it.

Orlando Antigua is no ordinary assistant college basketball coach. Or at least he shouldn't because of his inspirational story that many current college basketball players might not even know about.

He was born in the Dominican Republic, but his family moved to New York City where he was raised. However, on Halloween night in 1988, he was shot in the head near his left eye during a drive-by shooting. While he survived, doctors could not remove the bullet from his head.

Antigua was back playing basketball in two weeks and later became student council president at his high school. He earned McDonald's and Parade All-America honors on the basketball court and went on to play for the University of Pittsburgh. In 1994, the United States Basketball Writers' Association named him the USBWA Most Courageous Athlete for his exceptional courage on and off the floor.

He had a successful collegiate career and ranks 11th all-time at Pittsburgh in career 3-pointers made (117), sixth in 3-point career percentage (.386) and 12th in blocked shots (78). He started 78 games and averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 116 career games from 1991-95.

Surgeons finally removed the bullet from his head after it moved down into his ear canal during his collegiate career.

After graduating from Pittsburgh, he became the first Hispanic and the first non-black player to play for the Harlem Globetrotters in 52 years. He played in 48 countries during his seven years with the Globetrotters and was nicknamed "Hurricane" because of his moves and quickness. Once his playing career ended, he worked as an assistant high school basketball coach before landing a job at Pittsburgh. He went to Memphis to work for John Calipari in 2008 and came with him to Kentucky this year.

Antigua shared his thoughts on a variety of subjects with Kentucky Sports Report.

Question: Your life story is almost like a fairy tale. How often do you share your background — shot in head, family struggles, etc., — with players?

Antigua: "Time goes by fast. I sometimes share the story depending on if the situation warrants it. Obviously, I don't talk a lot about it. It's more about the kids now than me, but if there is an opportunity to share with them some of my experiences if they are going through times and how I was able to deal with it, I do it. It all comes down to being around good people, having goals for yourself. Coach Cal always talks about setting the bar really high and you making the right choices. Sometimes when bad things happen, you have to make a choice on how you deal with it. It is a matter of communicating that with them if there comes an opportunity to do that, and I do that.

Question: Do today's players even know about your background and what you had to overcome:

Antigua: "Sometimes in the players' world, they have so much going on. Even when I was a player, you don't think about all the guys and some stuff they had to experience. I didn't even know much about previous (USBWA Most Courageous) award winners until I went to the event at the Final Four and saw a highlight tape of previous winners. It was like, ‘Wow. These people are really special.' They have been through some stuff. It keeps things in perspective and you feel blessed and fortunate."


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