By Rica Facundo
A man of great heights has their kryptonite: an Achilles heel. The soft spot that renders them human, despite their superhuman like characteristics. Most times it’s a lover, but for The Big Man of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, well, it’s his mother. While he towers over most, with a lofty height of 7ft, he remains grounded – on the courts and off it. Because it would make his mother happy, he decided to hit the college courts to get a degree, even after playing like a pro with Smart Gilas.
Indeed, Gregory William Slaughter, or ‘Greg’ for short, admits to being a “momma’s boy.” But this twenty-four year old man has matured a lot since he left his Cebu home in 2007.
|Greg Slaughter and Rica Facundo|
A kid at heart
Greg’s intimidating frame deceives his character. He played for the University of the Visayas in 2007, started his residency in Ateneo in 2010 and became eligible to play in the 2011 season. While he’s built to be a dominant force on the court, as a kid born in Ohio and raised in Virginia, he was always the baby.
“Growing up they always picked on me so I’m used to being the baby,” Greg shares about his relationship with his half-siblings. He’s the only child of his mom. “They’re always making me believe things that aren’t true. They’re always like ‘we promise we’ll never bring the scary mask out,’ but they do,” he recalls, laughing.
Perhaps it’s where Greg gets the ability to roll with the punches, especially with people constantly exclaiming about his abnormally tall physique. With parents both working as health physicists at nuclear power plants, he gives a hypothetical explanation to his genes. “Maybe I was bitten by a radioactive spider in a power plant when I was young. Maybe that’s why I’m this height,” he says with a sly grin.
“What Would Shaq Say?”
Basketball is predominantly a physical sport with athletes courting tireless hours of training. But while physical fitness is a must, Greg also performs another kind of exercise. He prepares for his career with books. In his spare time he mostly enjoys reading autobiographies of NBA players, like The Jordan Rules and currently Shaq Uncut. No man is too big, or successful not to have doubts and insecurities, and Greg, even with his bright future, is one of them. So, he draws inspiration from some of the sporting world’s most successful athletes.
“Shaq’s the man. Anything I can learn from him I’m sure I can use it in my life,” he says.
When he comes to that point in his life where he needs to negotiate his contract, Greg will ask ‘What Would Shaq Say?’
Greg reveals, “Shaq says to ask for the most outrageous number first because the worst thing they can tell you is say no.”
Reading books also helps Greg understand the person behind the athlete, and the strategy that’s involved. In his experience being exposed to the international basketball scene, Greg says that we could still improve on the “thinking part” of the game, which is where he believes other places are ahead of the Philippines.
A lesson on humility
Unlike most UAAP players, Greg’s maturity stems from his experience with professional basketball and being the eldest on the team. However, Greg admits that he might have been over confident when he first started with the Blue Eagles back in the season of 2011. “You never want to be over confident with your opponent. That’s always not a good attitude towards basketball.”
But the opportunity to play alongside the Blue Eagles has humbled him.
“They’re basically like my brothers. You wouldn’t want to be looking down on them because you wouldn’t want to look down on your brother,” he says.
Make your momma proud
Technically, because of his height, it would be hard for Greg not to look down on others, but he doesn’t. Ironically, for a tall man he tries to be low-key, yet still self-assured. Because Greg Slaughter might be completely different from the center you see playing on the court, aggressively trying to beat his opponent. He chooses to play video games, inviting friends to come over, instead of going out.
“When you see basketball players all you do is see them play. But it’s only 2 hours of your day. There’s still 22 hours of the day that we’re doing something else,” he shares.
Regardless of what that ‘something else’ is, as a previous honor roll student in high school who took Advance Placement classes, and potential basketball star, Greg always expects the best out of what he pursues.
“If you don’t, how else are you supposed to get it?" Greg asks. "If you don’t expect it, when it comes you won’t be ready for it." RF
Rica Facundo writes for Rappler and Yahoo. Follow @senorica on Twitter and check out her blog senorica.wordpress.com