Thurl Bailey comes to UVU: perseverance pays off with talent and passion

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Ryan Dangerfield | Staff Writer | @ryandanger23

Photo credit: Gabi Campbell | Photo Editor | @gabicampbellphotos


Former Utah Jazz player Thurl Bailey came to Utah Valley University students on Jan. 27 to speak about his triumph over adversity when he started out as a basketball player, and the ingredients it takes to be successful in life.


“If there is something you really want and you are passionate about [it], get out of your comfortable space. Trust me. I believe in some cases, you have to do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do. There is some truth to that, but as long as you have your passion within you, as long as you are trying to figure that road map out, as long as you are putting yourself in a position to win, you have a shot,” said Bailey


Bailey’s love for basketball began by watching Julius Erving, also known as Dr. J, on a black and white television set. That moment triggered something inside him, his heart rate began to rise, and after that day he wanted to be the man he saw. At the time he was a tall and uncoordinated 8-year-old, who did not know how to play basketball.


“Throughout the course of your life, throughout the course of you developing yourself, throughout the course of you deciding who you want to be –­­­  three,  four or  five years from now – you are going to be tested,” said Bailey


After being cut for the second time from his junior high basketball team, the head coach came over to Bailey, who had walked away from the cut sheet, and told him, “Son, give it up, you were not meant to play this sport. You are wasting my time, I do not have time to teach you how to play this sport, and I am looking for guys who can help me win a championship this year. So do not bother trying out for my team next year, you will be wasting your time.”


The next year there was a new head coach at his junior high, Bailey decided to try out for the team one more time, and the next night after trying out he could not sleep because he was so excited to find out what would happen the next day. This time he saw his name on the list of players who had made the team.


The coach called Bailey into his office the next day and said “Son, if you want to be a great basketball player, you have a lot of work, but if you are willing to commit I will come in one hour before the team practices, and stay one hour later after the team leaves to work with you.”


After high school Bailey went on to North Carolina State, and in the 1983 NBA Draft was selected within the top ten players. The first time he played in the NBA, he went up against his idol, Dr. J, who dropped 47 points on him.


Bailey taught students about the importance of being passionate about what they study at UVU and said achieving dreams requires fully committing, and overcoming the challenges in the way.