It’s not uncommon to cross paths at Stanford with like-minded individuals who have somewhat of a shared background. It’s even possible that at different times paths may have crossed prior to meeting somebody at Stanford. What is uncommon is for a group of strangers to converge at Stanford from literally the exact same starting point in life but never to have known until decades after the fact.
Such is the case with Stanford Basketball’s “Good Sam Four,” Juniors Marcus and Malcolm Allen, and Sophomores Dorian Pickens and Michael Humphrey. That group represents a huge part of the Cardinal’s present and future, and it wasn’t until they got to Stanford that their parents realized the quirkily shared past among them.
Marcus and Malcolm went to high school in Las Vegas, but before that they spent the early part of their lives in the Phoenix area. Michael Humphrey and Dorian Pickens grew up and played their prep basketball in the Valley of the Sun. Pickens went to Pinnacle High School while Humphrey played both basketball and football for Sunnyside High School.
It wasn’t until all four joined Stanford’s basketball team that their parents came to a staggeringly coincidental revelation: all four had been born in the exact same hospital, Good Samaritan in Phoenix, Arizona. That’s right. 25% of Stanford’s current roster and nearly 50% of its points all had the same “launch point,” if you will.
Appropriately, it would be the parents who would make the connection, thanks to an assist from Good Samaritan’s architecture. Says Marcus and Malcolm’s mother, Trina Wiggins, a Stanford grad and former gymnast: “I happened to share with Kim (Humphrey) and Maria (Pickens) that we used to live in Phoenix and that the twins were born there. I also told them about my experience of having to spend the last 5-6 weeks of my pregnancy in the hospital with the tiny round windows. After describing the hospital, they knew exactly what I was talking about. At that point, they realized that all of our children had been born at Good Samaritan Hospital.”
“It just shows us that it truly is a small world,” adds Maria Pickens.
Pickens and Humphrey were aware of each other’s Stanford aspirations, but they wouldn’t meet on the hardwood until their senior years of high school. “When we heard Michael’s name we really didn’t know anything about him…..Their respective high school teams played against each other their senior year. Once arriving at Stanford, Michael and Dorian became good friends. We couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.”
The Allen Twins were not strangers to the Pickens thanks to the club circuit, but it was “not until attending Stanford did they get to really know each other and luckily they have created a strong friendship with Dorian.” Of course, the hospital you were born in rarely comes up in a casual conversation, so the bond between the four would still remain a secret until the Moms (and Tim Humphrey, Michael’s dad) had their epiphany.
It didn’t take long for the boys to zero in on the game that would become such a huge part of their lives.
“When Dorian was two years old, we bought him the traditional Little Tikes plastic basketball hoop. Every night he would ask ‘Dad let’s play basketball.’ So, Don would play on his knees and be his opponent for hours while playing on this toddler hoop.” A year later, Don Pickens rented a bunch of 70’s basketball videos that Dorian would dub the “basketball afro videos” and watch “endlessly,” as players like Julius Irving, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Walt Frazier came to life before Dorian’s eyes.
“By age six, he had tried tennis, baseball, soccer but always kept true to basketball. At this time, we started traveling with club ball and basketball became the sport of choice,” says Pickens.
For the Allen Twins, the immersion began early as well. Wiggins continues, “For their 8th birthday party, they requested to have a LA Laker party which was a huge success. Also around this age, we had a half basketball court put in the backyard. They were always on the court playing one on one. We had to beg them to come inside for dinner…they also incorporated basketball into school projects and essays.”
Wiggins says “I vividly remember them telling me they wanted to play Division 1 basketball when they were in the fifth grade. They worked hard on and off the court to achieve their dream. I am a very proud mama!”
Humphrey was the latest bloomer in the group, so to speak. As his father Tim says, “Basketball became Michael's focus the summer between his junior and senior years in high school. Michael, having never played AAU basketball, was asked to join a team, the Magic Elite, and experienced success in competing against high level competition. During this same time Michael was privileged to be invited to attend Pangos Camp and Reebok Camp where he gained further experience and exposure to college coaches. As he began receiving offers to attend college, the realization that basketball was his sport set in. To Michael's credit, even though he knew that basketball was his future, he played football his senior year and had a great experience doing so.”
It’s clear when talking to the parents that one tie that clearly binds them nowadays is the pride they take in watching their sons play. And make no mistake, these are parents who are living and dying with every dribble, pass, and shot. As Mr. Humphrey says, “as parents we go through the same range of emotions before, during and after the games....pre-game nervousness, highs and lows during that game and trying to wind down after it all ends.”
Certainly anybody who attends Stanford basketball games knows how passionate Trina Wiggins can be, and Maria Pickens has even branched out to Twitter to track the team and of course, Dorian.
It’s often said by Stanford players that they committed because of all the benefits they’ve received off the court. For Marcus, Malcolm, Dorian, and Michael, that includes all the experiences of campus but also the deep bonds and friendships they’ve formed with one another. Little did they know that not only is theirs a shared present, but as if pre-ordained, it all started with a strikingly shared past where it all began.