Though he might seem like an average basketball player at height of six feet, eight inches and a weight of 235 pounds, Udonis Haslem stands out of the crowd for his incredibly unique name. He was born and raised in Miami, Florida.
Like most other players, his basketball career began in high school. As a player for Miami High School, Haslem led the team to the state championships in 1997 and 1998.
Unfortunately, an investigation by the Miami New Times showed that Haslem and Steve Blake (another future NBA player) along with several other Miami High players had violated residency requirements, so the school was stripped of its 1998 championship title.
For college, Haslem did not venture far from home. He attended the University of Florida where he majored in leisure service management. He was their star center for four years and helped lead the Gators to basketball glory. In his sophomore season, the team made it all the way to the NCAA Division I championship.
Over the course of his college career, Halsem scored a total of 1,782 points and made 831 rebounds, ranking him third and tenth in Gator history, respectively.
Halsem had a very rough start in the NBA. Though he was originally drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, the team cut him after his weight grew to over 300 pounds. As a result, he signed with Chalon-Sur-Saone, a French professional team.
He averaged 16.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in addition to losing 70 pounds, a feat which earned him a position in the NBA summer league.
In 2003, Halsem returned to his hometown when he was signed as an undrafted rookie by the Miami Heat, who he still plays for today. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team, showing his tremendous growth from his first encounter with the NBA.
After his teammate Lamar Odom was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Halsem was awarded the position of started power forward. He became part of the team’s core, making consistent 15-foot jump shots and being a solid rebounder.
In 2006, Halsem brought himself some notoriety when he was ejected from a first-round playoff game aginast the Chicago Bulls. He threw his mouth guard at one of the refrees, and was immediately expulsed from play. However, he redeemed himself when he led the team in the NBA Championship against the Dallas Mavericks.
A seven year veteran of the NBA, it will be interesting to see what Halsem will do for the Heat in the future.