Up Close: Reggie Bullock, Part I

Inside Carolina's Matt Morgan traveled to Kinston to put together a multi-part feature story on North Carolina signee Reggie Bullock. Here's Part I ...

Part I
Hungry & Humble

KINSTON, N.C. --- Some people wear their hearts on their sleeve. Reggie Bullock wears his philosophy on his biceps.

Bullock doesn't seem like the tattoo type. Between his strict Christian upbringing, the mile-wide smile and all the "Yes, sirs" and "No, sirs", the Kinston High senior doesn't act like the kind of kid who'd run off to the tattoo parlor as a high school junior. But sure enough, creeping up the inside of his left bicep is the word "Humble" and up the inside of his right, "Hungry."

Carolina fans have a love/hate — or more appropriately, hate/love — relationship with complementary arm tattoos, but Bullock's is different. Unlike Rashad McCants' infamous ink in 2005, this Carolina sharpshooter's message is much clearer. His artwork is a shout out to his grandma, not drama.

"My grandma is basically the person who has been raising me all my life," Bullock explained. "She told me as long as I stayed hungry and humble that I'd make it."

Bullock's grandmother, Patricia Williams, is a former a minister in Kinston and the biggest reason Bullock is who he is today.

Since Bullock moved to Kinston from Baltimore when he was three years old, Williams has been both his mother and father. While the former minister might not be thrilled about being the inspiration for a tattoo, her effect on Bullock's personality is undeniable. His judgment comes from Williams. His work ethic comes from Williams. Even Bullock's charisma comes from grandma.

"He uses that head as more than just a hat rack," Kinston High coach Wells Gulledge joked. "His grandmother has done a phenomenal job in raising a great person who can go into society and be productive as a person once the ball stops bouncing."

Early in his career, Williams wasn't always the most accommodating when it came to Bullock playing basketball. When he was at Rochelle Middle school, he often had to sit out Wednesday night games because he was in church. At the end of his eighth grade year, he missed the season finale for disobeying his grandmother. His transgression? He hadn't cleaned his room.

But what was once a hindrance became Bullock's resolve.

"I always stayed in church and had respect for people," Bullock said. "She taught me responsibility."

During home games you can find Williams in the far right corner of the gym at Kinston. She's limited to a wheelchair and uses an oxygen tank but she makes it out to Kinston High as often as she's able. Williams has always been more interested in the Bible than basketball, but she makes an exception for Bullock.

"She's probably more serious (than me) but she'll get amped if I dunk or if I'm making a lot of threes," Bullock laughed. "She always tells me, 'If I come to this game in the rain, you better do something.' So I always try to put on a show for my grandma."

Williams made her first trip to Chapel Hill in January when Kinston played Dudley.

"I think she really enjoyed coming up that day and watching us play Greensboro Dudley," Gulledge said. "Hopefully there will be many more trips."

(Check back tomorrow for Part II ...)

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