“Tiny” Paul Sturgess has found his niche.
He’s 7 feet, 8 inches tall, wears size 20 or 21 shoes, depending on who you talk to (what’s a half inch here or there when you have dogs that long?), sleeps diagonally on hotel beds, has to duck doorsills, needs custom-made clubs to engage in golf, and is used to people staring at him.
Tiny doesn’t mind. He’s the newest member of the Harlem Globetrotters, which blows into Toronto, starting a Canada-wide tour next month.
Of course, they’d call him Tiny. He’s signed up with Jonte “Too Tall” Hall, the shortest Globetrotter ever at 5’2”.
Last November, Tiny was inducted into the Guiness World Book of Records as the tallest professional basketball player in the world. He’s taller than Yao Ming and that’s saying something. A native of Loughborough, England, Tiny is also currently the tallest British man on the face of the earth.
He’s taller than any NBA player. Manute Bol was 7 feet, 7 inches. He was the tallest college basketball player in the United States over the past couple of years.
Tiny’s extraordinary height is not a manifestation of any disease. He apparently ate his Wheaties while growing up. It helps that he has genes for tallness. But even his father at 6-foot-9 never would have reckoned that his offspring would tower above him, eventually. His mother is 5-foot-5.
It wasn’t always this way. At age 14, Tiny stood 5 foot 6 and favoured soccer, his nimble limbs able to do great things with a ball. But he grew a foot between the ages of 16 and 17, made the British TV show Supersize Kids: Britain’s Tallest Teens) at age 19 and then gradually fluttered up to his current height. When he graduated high school, he stood 7 foot 2, imposing enough, at that. At age 24, Tiny figures the growth spurt is over.
As it is, Tiny can tough the rim of a basketball hoop while standing on his tiptoes. He’s become accustomed to the attention he gets when he stops off in a convenience store: people snap up the instant cameras in the store to photograph him.
Tiny has become all to aware of what a spectacle he is when he goes anywhere. “It doesn’t really bother me,” he told a reporter. “If I shied away from it, what good is that going to do me? I just take it all in stride. I hold my head high. [Of course he does.]I’m proud of who I am and I’m putting it to good use.”
Getting to Toronto? Priceless. He’ll have to fold his body into an airplane seat.