Ron Harper’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words – Brief Article
Los Angeles Lakers star Ron Harper was at ease at a recent press conference in Los Angeles. He answered questions with humor and grace, and he never seemed at a loss for words.
That hasn’t always been the case for the Lakers guard. Harper has a speech impediment that makes it difficult for him to get out long sentences.
This season in particular, he shrugged off his problem and became a strong voice in the Lakers’ lockerroom. It’s something he doesn’t consider particularly exceptional, given the NBA championship experience he possesses from his years with the Chicago Bulls.
“It’s just my job. It’s just me,” he said. “It’s just me doing the job I have to do. Some days I’m going to speak and some days I keep to myself.”
Even in the final stages of a standout NBA career, Harper, 36, isn’t immune to the teasing he first heard as a child. He said opponents still taunt him about his stutter, and he also gets a fair amount of good-natured ribbing from teammates.
Portland Trail Blazer Rasheed Wallace once mimicked Harper’s speech impediment. “Whatever Rasheed said, I’m sure he’s having a good time off right now,” laughed Harper, whose Lakers beat Wallace’s Blazers in seven games.
“I didn’t let Rasheed bother me. I hope he has a nice offseason. Some players joke about it and kids stutter at you sometimes, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve just got to be me. I can’t be anybody else.”
He noted, “It’s important to know who you are, when you’ve been through what I’ve been through–kids laughing at you all the time. I just play and don’t let anything bother me.”
He noted, “Whenever somebody made fun of me. I said, “OK, play basketball with me.’ Then I made fun of them.”
Harper is one of six children all of whom were raised solely by their mother Gloretha in Dayton, OH. In fact, his mother taught him how to play basketball. She played basketball in high school.
Harper’s impediment was much worse when he played at Miami of Ohio, but he hasn’t done any speech therapy since leaving high school in 1986. He simply says what he feels like saying, and the impediment comes and goes.
“I can’t sit at home because somebody is going to laugh at me. Who cares?”
COPYRIGHT 2000 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group