Lance Allred is not your typical basketball player.
Allred describes himself as a hearing impaired kid who grew up in a cult. He also had two mothers when he was born at a polygamous compound in Montana.
The Cleveland Cavaliers signed Allred, who had been tearing up the D-league, to a 10-day contract this weekend. He recently had a 29 point-19 rebound game for the Idaho Stampede, but it’s his background that has everybody talking.
Allred says he has memories of his childhood that still haunt him.
He recently described his troubled youth, “I grew up in a society where I was pretty much brainwashed,” he said. “When I was 5 years old and hearing impaired, I was told by a teacher that God had made me deaf as punishment because I wasn’t faithful in a pre-existence. Who tells a 5-year-old kid that?”
Allred and his family moved to Utah when he was 13. He was the Gatorade Utah Player of the Year and an honor student in high school. He played for Team USA in the World Deaf Basketball Championships in Greece. Allred then stayed in-state and signed to play his college basketball for renowned coach, Rick Majerus, at Utah.
It was a disaster from the start. Majerus immediately branded Allred as an underachiever who lacked heart. In a famous piece in Sports Illustrated, S.L. Price wrote,
“…Majerus reportedly called Lance Allred, a backup center who was 75% deaf, “a disgrace to cripples” who had “weaseled [his] way through life using [his poor] hearing as an excuse.”
Things became so bad that Allred transferred to Weber State. Although he averaged 18 ppg, and finished third in the nation in rebounding, his senior season, Allred went undrafted by the NBA. Many accuse Majerus of badmouthing him to NBA clubs.
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Not all of Allred’s coaches speak badly of him. “People don’t understand what he’s been through. He’s been knocked down a few times with thunderbolts and lightning and always picked himself up and kept going,” says one former coach.
I’m sure, unlike Majerus, most NBA fans will be rooting for him.