If it hadnt been for an unusual growth spurt, Danny Granger could have been one of the civil engineers designing sports arenas like Conseco Fieldhouse instead of one of the basketball players performing in them.
Funny how things turn out.
For as long as he can remember, Granger had designs on becoming an engineer -- a civil engineer, to be exact. He recalls heading straight to the computer with his sister immediately after they returned home from school. The pair decided they would both become engineers (his sister studied to become a computer engineer). His natural knack for math and science also played into his decision.
I always wanted to be a civil engineer, said Granger, who began studying the field at Bradley University and continued after transferring to New Mexico. That was my goal. Im still passionate about it.
However, a growth spurt back in ninth grade sent him soaring from 6-2 to 6-7 within months. It seemed a good indicator of the path the now 6-9 forward would be taking.
Height wasnt the only thing that played into his talent on the court. He credits his father, whom he describes as a very good basketball player, for introducing him to the game when he was young. He raised me up playing the game, said Granger, who had also tried football.
His physique clinched his decision to pursue basketball as a sport. I was pretty fast, but my body is better built for basketball, he said.
While he excelled at the game, Granger still had his Plan B. Or, in his case, Plan A. He advises youths wanting to make it as a professional player to work hard at their goal no matter the outcome.
Realistically, making it to the NBA is a very difficult goal, Granger said. If you look at the numbers, percentage-wise, you see how many people actually make it. It takes a lot of hard work and determination. And even if you dont accomplish that goal, you can still be successful while striving for that goal. I wanted to be a civil engineer and I was using basketball as my ticket to get a degree.
These days, Granger feeds his passion for engineering by putting things together at his home.
Im still into electronic things, said Granger, who installed a complex music system in his house and did the wiring for his flat-screen TVs. I like just fooling with stuff in the house. I probably could hire somebody do it for me, but I end up doing it myself.
However, he completed the tasks and enjoys the fruits of his labor by indulging in one of his other passions whenever he has the time.
In his spare time, he enjoys playing video games on his Xbox 360 such as John Madden and NBA Live, where he is able to play as himself because he is featured in the game. You might also find him at home indulging in his favorite food, banana pudding. He has an incredible recipe handed down by his uncle, who is a cook.It is the most amazing banana pudding you will have ever tasted, he said. It is unbelievable.
Granger also enjoys watching movies.
A self-professed movie buff, Granger figures he owns at least 2,000 movies. In his most recent attempt to count them, he was able to number about 1,500 right off the bat without counting the ones in other rooms.
His favorite movie of all time: "Gladiator," which stars Russell Crowe.
No matter how many times I see that movie, Im still drawn to it, Granger said. Thats the real test of a great movie. A worthy runner-up is "Armageddon," starring Bruce Willis. His favorite genre tends to be action, drama and films with a message.
Grangers love of movies dates back to his college days. He and his girlfriend would head out to the theater early in the day on Saturdays and watch three movies in a row. They often wouldnt get back to their dorm rooms until about 10 p.m. We didnt want to pay every time, he said with a laugh. Money was tight.
When asked if he would ever consider taking on a role in Hollywood, Granger has some serious doubts. Im not afraid of public speaking, but acting?" he said. "Not my cup of tea.
Even so, he leaves room for the possibility. Who knows? he said.
Indeed, who knows what the future holds for a young man who set out to become a civil engineer and made it the NBA?