The prognosis was not good for Patricia Leslie, or her unborn child. She had a tumor, and the doctors had to operate, taking out several ribs. Good chance, the baby would never make it.
But here he came, bravely and healthy into the world. He was born deaf in his left ear from the trauma, but that could be overcome. His parents looked at the little odds-beater and decided on a fitting first name. One you certainly don’t hear every day.
Two decades later, now playing guard for your Cal State Fullerton Titans – Lionheart Leslie.
``She had to have a C-section. They took me out at the last minute,’’ he said over the phone. ``I had the heart of a lion, they said. I’ve tried to live up to that to this day.’’
What’s in a name? Often plenty. What follows is a lineup of outside-the-box college basketball names, and the reasons why.
But first, back to Lionheart. ``Through my life, I’ve faced a lot of adversity,’’ he said. ``The name I got, I will always overcome it. No regrets.’’
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But really, Lionheart? ``Nobody believes me. To this day, I have to show my license,’’ he said. He mentioned the time a police officer back home in Louisiana stopped him for speeding, asked for his license, saw the name, and got into a long conversation about it. ``That stopped me from getting a ticket, actually. He asked me where I played, and he started checking me out.’’
But sometimes, even the ID isn’t enough to convince people. ‘’I have to go by another name,’’ he said. ``I just say my name is Josh or something.’Sorry, but Josh Leslie does not earn a spot on this list. But these other guys do:
Shake Milton, SMU freshman guard.
When late father Myrion played at Texas A&M, people called him Milkman. So Milkman wanted to give his yet-unborn son a dairy-worthy nickname while still in the womb. Hence, Malik Benjamin Milton has always been Shake. No word on if he prefers vanilla, chocolate or strawberry.
Four McGlynn, Rhode Island senior guard.
Full name is Patrick J. McGlynn IV. That’s a mouthful, so he’s gone with Four.
Admiral Schofield, Tennessee freshman forward.
Father Anthony is a retired Navy man, and wanted to pay homage to the military. Admiral has a younger brother. His name is General. Only officers in this family. P.S. Admiral was born in the same London hospital where Princess Diana gave birth to princes William and Harry.
Sir Washington, Eastern Washington sophomore guard.
Melvin Washington wanted his first-born son to be named Mister Washington. ``My wife said no, but I said if we ever have a second son, he’s going to be Sir Washington, I don’t care what people say,’’ Melvin said. ``A lot of people fell in love with it. My wife fell in love with it.’’
Scoochie Smith, Dayton junior guard.
His grandfather gave him the name, but no one is really sure why.
Diamond Stone, Maryland freshman center.
His father wanted a tough name to set an example for his son. Diamond, he learned, is among the hardest material in the world.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Michigan sophomore guard.
Yeah, he’s named after the fighter, but not because of boxing. His father wanted a name of significance and importance. Ali is certainly that.
Lourawls ``Tum Tum’’ Nairn Jr., Michigan State sophomore guard.
Talk about your team effort for a name. His grandfather was a huge fan of singer Lou Rawls. His mother liked the Tum Tum character from the movie ``3 Ninjas.’’
Divine Myles, Stetson sophomore guard and second leading scorer at 13.6.
Doctors had all manners of bleak predictions. He’d be stillborn. Or if not that, he’d never be able to walk, or have mental disabilities. Something bad. None of it happened. His parents made their feelings known with both first and middle names. Divine Miracle Myles.
Biggie Minnis, Wright State senior guard.
As a little boy, his head was on the large size, so his father got to calling him Biggie Head. Then his body caught up, and Head had to be dropped. But Biggie stuck.
Canyon Barry, Charleston junior guard and leading scorer at 21.3 points a game.
Former NBA player Rick and wife Lynn loved to vacation at the Grand Canyon, and decided early on, perhaps while peeking over the South Rim, that their child would carry the name. Presumably, they did not consider Grand Barry.
Pancake Thomas, Hartford junior guard and leading scorer at 13.7 points a game.
It came from his grandmother, who must have seen the kid put down a lot of flapjacks in his time.
Valentine Izundu, Washington State junior center.
His mother had that name all ready for the son expected on Feb. 14. Except he wasn’t born until Feb. 19. But that wasn’t going to get in the way.
Faith Pope, UT-Arlington, junior forward.
His parents were having struggles when he was born, and his mother needed to know there was a reason to believe things would get better. She wanted that reminder every time she said her son’s name.
Jazz Jones, Portland freshman guard.
Jaaziel was a musician from the Bible. Jazz’ father was studying religion at the time, and liked the name for his son. Jazz was just a lot easier for everyone to say and spell.
Giddy Potts, Middle Tennessee sophomore guard and leading scorer at 14.8.
Pretty simple. He was always laughing as a kid.
This was a players’ only list, but special coaches’ mention should go to Texas’ Shaka Smart – named after a Zulu chieftain – Drexel’s Bruiser Flint and Central Michigan’s Keno Davis.
Worthy entrants all. It seems a good time to honor them, in the week there is so much talk about a guy named Santa.