11 Tall NBA Players with Short Parents

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According to the statistics, only 14.5% of the male population in the United States is over six feet. The number goes down to 0.1% for females. Winning the genetic lottery is truly a stroke of luck, and perhaps NBA players are the luckiest of the lucky. After all, not all of them have 6-foot parents, yet there they are. These things considered, here are the 11 tall NBA players with short parents.

11 Tall NBA Players with Short Parents11 Tall NBA Players with Short Parents

Basketball has always been a tall man’s game, but there is no guarantee you can say the same for his parents. That’s because people over 6 feet tall in the United States only comprise about 14.5% of the population. And say either of the parents reaches six feet; it’s still not a done deal that their kid spruces up to 6’7, the average height of NBA players.

Here are tall athletes with short parents in the NBA.

1. Michael Jordan

Jordan is an outlier for many reasons, athletically and because nobody in his immediate family is six feet tall. MJ mentioned a distant cousin over six feet, but that couldn’t have possibly affected his height more than his parents. For the record, Michael Jordan’s parents’ height was average. James Jordan, Sr. is only 5’10 on a good day, while Deloris Jordan is 5’5.

From a very young age, Jordan could see himself losing the height game. He loved basketball so much and knew that additional inches could take his game to new heights, no pun intended. Thus, young MJ would hang himself over pullup bars, put salt in his shoes, and do whatever it takes, be it reasonable or not, to grow taller.

By some form of luck, Jordan slowly reached his adult height of 6’6 in his senior year in high school. Can you imagine an alternate timeline where Michael Jordan, the six-time NBA champion and who many call the Greatest of all Time, was barely six feet tall? There would be no cool Air Jordan sneakers, or, as the worst-case scenario, basketball’s popularity may have died down after Larry Bird and Magic Johnson retired.

2. Tacko Fall

Fall turned heads when playing with the University of Central Florida. And when he decided to try to go professional, the guy was measured at 7’7 (with shoes) when he participated in the draft combine and broke some physicals there. If you’re a gambling man, you’d probably bet one of his parents is at least over six feet, right?

Well, no. His father is “only” six feet, while his mom, Marianne Sene, is 5’8. Therefore, Fall surely did not inherit his height from them. But then again, where would he get it from? After all, seven-footers only make up less than 1% of the world’s population! If this was a real lottery, Tacko Fall gets to be a billionaire.

3. Boban Marjanovic

At one point, Marjanovic was the NBA’s tallest and heaviest player at 7’4, 290 pounds. The man could dunk without even trying; that’s how tall Boban is. But like a plot twist in a movie, Marjanovic revealed that his parents are only 5’4 and 5’3, respectively.

Unlike others in this list, Marjanovic’s can be explained by science. The Houston Rockets center has gigantism, a rare pituitary gland issue that allows the body to have an excess of growth hormones. Apparently, this causes the person to grow very tall, as in Boban’s case.

4. Gheorghe Muresan

At 7’7, Muresan is the tallest NBA player with the shortest parents. His height allowed him to block so many shots and, evidently, dunk the ball without much effort. In fact, he was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player during the 1995-96 season.

Apparently, the height did not come from his parents. Muresan’s folks stood below six feet as his dad was only 5’9, and his mom was 5’7. Muresan also has a pituitary gland condition that caused him to be so tall.

5. Jeremy Lin

The man behind “Linsanity,” Lin, is the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent. He is actually short by NBA standards (6’3), but, of course, he is taller than most people. That being said, J-Lin’s parents are both 5’6. Everyone thought Lin would be just as short as his parents as he was only 5’3 at 15 years old.

So, where did Jeremy Lin get his height from? From the looks of it, Lin got a boost from his maternal grandmother, who was said to be six foot tall. Lin got lucky that he inherited her grandma’s genes, as evidenced by the height of the rest of his family. None of his brothers ever touched six feet. His younger brother, Joseph, came the closest at 5’11.

6. Russell Westbrook

Westbrook is around 6’4 on a good day, pretty tall for an NBA point guard. The 2017 MVP was just 5’8 in his freshman year in high school until a growth spurt boosted his height. As is the case with many, Westbrook, at 16 years old, is just as tall as his dad, Russell Sr. His mom, Shannon Horton, is 5’7. His younger brother, Raynard, is only 5’6.

7. Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt is called the “Big Dipper,” not because of the constellation but because he is “dipping” himself low to look normal. He used to stoop his shoulders so low when he was with his friends because he was insecure about his height. See, Chamberlain was already tall as a young boy, but that height did not come from his parents.

How tall are Wilt Chamberlain’s parents? William Chamberlain stood 5’8, and his mother, Olivia Johnson, was 5’9.

8. Gordon Hayward

Hayward is 6’8, but his parents thought he might never reach six feet. After all, they both stand “only” 5’10. Even their family doctor predicted he could only go as far as 6’2.

The Charlotte Hornets forward broke the mold and slowly grew into his adult height. He was supposed to play tennis if he didn’t have a growth spurt, but thankfully, the inches caught on. Hayward grew to 6-foot-7 by his senior year in high school and added a couple of inches at Butler, where he played college ball.

9. Moses Malone

Big Mo is one of the NBA’s underappreciated superstars. At 6’10, he was a better rebounder than the other centers in his heyday, even Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Believe it or not, Malone’s dad is only 5’6, and his mom is 5’2.

Perhaps one thing that would have proved that he is an anomaly is that Malone has disproportionately small hands. He was a big guy, but he didn’t have the hand size that most NBA centers have. Malone can palm the basketball, but he couldn’t control it in midair or anything like that. Still, that did not stop him from having a Hall of Fame career.

10. LeBron James

LeBron James’ parents’ heights are nothing special. James was raised by Gloria James, who’s only 5’5. No one’s sure how tall LeBron’s dad is, but he is no taller than six feet. Doctors predicted James’ height to be no more than 6’3, but as he has always done, he upstaged the forecast and shot up to 6’8.

11. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Abdul-Jabbar, born Lewis Alcindor, Jr., was unusually tall at a young age and grew up to be 7’2. That helped him become one of the greatest NBA players ever. However, he wasn’t supposed to be that tall. His dad, Lew Alcindor, Sr., was only 6’2, while his mother, Cora, was 5’10.

Why Height Matters in the NBAWhy Height Matters in the NBA

Height matters in many sports, but more so in basketball. That’s because size greatly influences, and even determines, the various aspects of the game, such as rebounding and defense. Of course, it is not the sole determinant of success, but tall players already have distinct advantages.

Some examples are:

  • The 6’1 John Stockton is still the all-time leader in assists, but tall players could see and pass over the defense. This is particularly useful if the offense is built around great passing big men like Vlade Divac or Arvydas Sabonis.
  • Interior Scoring. Given a tall player does his work early by sealing off the defender, two points is just a quick spin away.
  • Outside Shooting. Tall, skilled perimeter shooters are nightmare matchups. Just ask anyone who’s guarded Kevin Durant. The 7-foot Durant can just shoot over his defender anytime he wants.
  • Contesting Shots. Taller players block shots easily, but even more so, they bother shots very easily just by raising their hands.

Wrapping Things Up: Tall NBA Players with Short Parents

NBA players are some of the world’s tallest athletes. Height sure comes in handy in basketball, and that’s why the average height of NBA players is nearly 6’7. That said, many don’t know some of these tall athletes simply won the genetic lottery. Simply put, many NBA players are born to parents who are not vertically gifted.

Some tall NBA players with short parents are surprisingly very famous. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook are a few of them. Even freakishly tall NBA players like Tacko Fall, Boban Marjanovic, and Gheorghe Muresan have parents who have average heights. They say it’s better to be lucky than good, and these athletes sure are lucky!

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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