Extreme Makeover: DeJuan Blair Edition

Ken Rodriguez is a San Antonio native who covered his first Spurs game in 1981 for The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper. He spent 26 years in the newspaper business -- 21 of them covering sports -- before joining the marketing department at Our Lady of the Lake University in 2009. His Spurs.com column will appear every Wednesday.

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DeJuan Blair does not look like himself. The stomach has flattened. The shoulders have narrowed. The flab in his trunk has vanished. Where did the wide body go?

It melted in puddles of sweat. The old Blair spent the offseason eating less and working out more -- running and riding a bike, lifting weights and doing crunches -- until, 25 pounds later, a new man emerged. The new Blair looks like an after photo in a weight loss add.

“I lost two pant sizes,” Blair says. “I was a 44. Now I’m a 40. I had to buy a new everything. I’m feeling a lot better about myself.”

The smile gives him away. It’s as big and wide as he used to be. After a recent workout at the Spurs practice facility, Blair was all happy face as he discussed his physical transformation. The eyes sparkled.

The head tilted in laughter. The smile grew bigger and bigger.

Blair loves his new body and all it has brought him. “I’m a lot quicker,” he says. “I don’t get as tired running up and down the court.”

Once soft and round at 290 pounds, Blair has slimmed to a lean 265 and doesn’t plan to stop. “My goal,” he says, “is to get to 250.”

The decision to slim down was rooted more in reality than epiphany. After starting 62 regular season games, Blair landed on the bench in the postseason. He played sparingly in the Western Conference finals. Why? The answer stared at him in the mirror.

“I sat down and said, ‘How could I better myself? I looked at everything and said, ‘My weight.’ I wanted to turn my body into something that could be really amazing for me. I’m still not done yet. But I feel great.”

The makeover began last spring at the Spurs practice facility. “I would come in every single night in the playoffs. I worked on the Elliptical. I’d run, shoot, just try to get ready for next year. I decided I was going to control what I can and that’s my weight.”

In the summer, DeJuan intensified his workouts with the help of three brothers, one of them University of Cincinnati linebacker Greg Blair. DeJuan and Greg speak daily, text all the time and once led their high school basketball team in Pittsburgh to the Class 4A state championship.

“Greg is my biggest motivator,” DeJuan says. “He keeps me going every day. The bond we have is amazing. It’s a bond nobody can break. We both have the same aspirations, the same goals. He pushes me. I push him.”

They pushed each other throughout the offseason, first in Pittsburgh, where DeJuan holds summer camps, then at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where DeJuan trains privately. They ran hills and jumped rope, worked on their abs and played hours of ball in the gym.

When DeJuan left Bradenton, little brothers Andre Irish and Bernard Washington pushed him in San Antonio, two or three times a day, often after midnight. “I’d be in the gym at 1, 2, 3, 4 in the morning,” DeJuan says.

“He kind of shocked me,” says Andre, who helped train DeJuan. “At any given time, when it was time to work, no one could stop him. Whatever workout was thrown at him, he completed.”

Andre remembers pushups, situps, relentless drills. “He’d take maybe 500 shots and after every 10, he’d sprint down court and come right back and shoot,” Andre says. “It was crazy.”

Adds Bernard: “DeJuan’s goal was to get in the shape he was never in.”

There were days DeJuan didn’t want to workout. There were stretches no weight came off. What kept him going? The pain of the postseason. The possibilities of the next season. The pushing and prodding of his brothers.

DeJuan throws his head back. He isn’t starting but he’s smiling. He doesn’t know what the future holds but he’s at peace. A new body has given him a new vibe, a fresh perspective. “I’m feeling a lot better about the team, about my family, about everything,” he says. “If I could stay in San Antonio the rest of my career that would be wonderful. I love it here.”