When the Harlem Globetrotters roll into Peoria, one member will not be too tall for the game.
“It is a special feeling,” Too Tall Hall said of being the shortest member in team history at 5’2. “But when you are a kid, seeing all your friends be tall, it bothered me at first. Then I just kept working on my skill level everyday. It’s mind blowing to be on the team now.”
Hall is in his second season with the Globetrotters, who will be in Peoria Dec. 29 at the Peoria Civic Center.
“It’s a big family,” Hall said. “We are going into our 87th year. This year is going to be exciting and different because the fans get to write the rules. We will do anything from playing with two basketballs to double the points for each basket.”
Before being a Globetrotter, Hall’s professional basketball career began with the Washington Generals, the team the Globetrotters play.
“I used to play with the Washington Generals for a year and a half,” Hall said. “The Globetrotters offered me a tryout and I’m in my second year. It’s amazing.”
To get a tryout with the Generals, Hall had to put in the initiative.
“I gave the Washington Generals a call,” Hall said. “I had to send some video footage of myself. I put myself out there and they gave me a tryout.”
While Hall’s professional career has revolved around playing against and for the Globetrotters, he has been around the game nearly his whole life.
“I’ve been playing since I was 9 years old,” Hall said. “Growing up, I was always short. I would ask my mom, ‘Why can’t I grow any taller. She said, ‘Son, you’ve got small parents and that’s the way things are.’
“I fell in love with it instantly. I tried football and I tried baseball but it wasn’t the same passion. I used to sleep with my basketball as a baby.”
Being short for the game of basketball, Hall said there were extra things he had to do to ensure success.
“Working hard helped. I stayed in the gym extra hours, worked on different shots and worked on my jump shot, basically the things you have to do to be successful at 5’2.”
Now that he plays for the Globetrotters, Hall said it completes a circle that started as a kid.
“I heard of them as a kid and kept watching them and said, ‘Wow, I want to be a part of that,’” Hall said. “Changing peoples’ lives inspires me. It’s great to inspire kids who are not blessed with height. I tell them not to give up and to put their mind to working hard.
Page 2 of 2 - “I like to inspire little kids and their families and see the smiles that puts on their faces. When they see me and my teammates come out on the court they are so excited to see us.”
The team may goof around on the court but Hall said off the court, things are very serious.
“We practice very hard before every game,” Hall said. “With this tour, you never know what to expect before a game.
“It is very intense. You have to be a great basketball player to do all that stuff. The whole team is pretty great at basketball. That’s first and foremost. Then we will work on little things that the fans love like the alley oops.”
Being a Globetrotter means that outside of the intense practices and entertaining fans during games, life is spent on the road.
“It’s an amazing experience,” Hall said. “We might be in Toronto one night and after the game we might drive to New York.
“It was a big step up in the first year. It was tough. Everyday you learn something new.”
That life on the road has taken Hall around the world to 18 countries including China, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Amsterdam.
“We start our U.S. tour from Dec. 26 and go through mid-April,” Hall said. “That’s our busy time. Then we go to do Europe tours and USO shows during the summer time.”
“It’s different to be in a different country,” Hall said. “For me, personally, you might be in a country like China where people don’t speak any English. It’s tough sometimes.”
With all the globe trotting, the most recent tour found Hall in his favorite foreign country.
“We just got back from Dubai,” Hall said. “It was great. It was hot with 100 degree weather. We played outside and the fans really loved it. Dubai is very beautiful.”
With two years under his belt, Hall said he hopes they are the start of many more to come.
“I would love to be a part of this for years and years to come,” Hall said. “I want at least 10 more years or as long as my body holds up.”
With the experience of growing up short and succeeding in the world of basketball, Hall has advice for kids hoping to make a go of basketball.
“Keep working hard, respect your parents, put God first and the sky is the limit,” Hall said. “It’s not going to come easy. You will have ups and downs. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had downs before being successful. Don’t listen to what people say. They told me I should give up. You just have to block that out, love your craft and the sky is the limit.”