BALTIMORE - If you ask Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, his long and prosperous NBA career was anything but an underdog story.
He says it was fueled by confidence, skills, and motivation from where he grew up.
Bogues, now 58 years old, credits his hometown, Baltimore, for sparking his career that ultimately led him to becoming one of the best assist point guards in NBA history.
He also did it at 5 feet, 3 inches tall, which is still a record as the shortest player in the existence of the league.
"I wanted to prove everybody wrong, that a kid my size can be looked at as any other basketball player who pursued the game," Bogues said.
"Muggsy" Bogues spoke with WJZ about overcoming the odds to play 14 seasons in the NBA, how Baltimore was the catalyst, and how he plans to honor his late sister Sherron Bogues in June.
Bogues, a key member of the national powerhouse Laurence Dunbar Poets teams of the early 1980s, recently released a book about his journey from Baltimore to the NBA.
"What pushed me was the situation, of course, my environment and not being well off. I had a hunger. I dreamed," Bogues said. "When a kid has a dream, and he can really visualize that dream and put actions behind that dream and start taking steps and get closer and closer to that dream, that's all the all the ammunition and motivation that you need."
Bogues, within the past year, wrote a book about his life - growing up in Baltimore and turning it into a prolific professional career.
Bogues said the book, "Muggsy: My Life from a Kid in the Projects to the Godfather of Small Ball," digs deep into his early life in the Lafayette Public Housing Projects in East Baltimore with his two brothers Anthony and Richland and sister Sherron, to remarrying his wife, Kim, after nearly a decade separated, to his legendary matchups with Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, John Stockton, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and more.
'I believed in myself'
Bogues became a first-round draft by the Washington Bullets, and was trade the next season to the expansion Charlotte Hornets where he played the next 10 seasons, becoming one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Teamed up with Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Dell Curry and Kendall Gill to lead the Hornets to three NBA playoff appearances, including the franchise's first postseason trip in 1992.
The NBA was physical, much more than it appears today.
But for Bogues, size didn't matter.
"I believed in myself, the confidence that I had," Bogues said.
Bogues ranks 24th all-time in assists, with 6,726 (7.7 per game) in 889 games.
He still owns the best career-to-assist turnover ratio 4.69 assist to 1 turnover. He dished out 19 assists in three separate games.
"That was a great time for me to have a career," Bogues said. "I am grateful and thankful God gave me the fortitude to play against the best."
Poetic justice for 'Muggsy'
But it was the streets of Baltimore where Bogues got his nickname "Muggsy."
Bogues was the leader, the point guard of the legendary Laurence Dunbar Poets, of the early 1980s, which had five future NBA players - Gary Grant, David Wingate, Reggie Lewis, Reggie Williams and Bogues - all from the same Baltimore neighborhood.
From 1981 until 1983, the Poets went 59-0, and won the national championship in 1983.
The squad was historic, especially in Baltimore. In 2017, they were the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, called "Baltimore Boys."
"It was right down the street from everybody's neighborhood," Bogues said. "The team we were able to assemble, myself, the late Reggie Lewis, David Wingate, Reggie Williams, Gary Grant, Tim Dawson. We were so talented that we were able to take that talent on the road and play against anybody in the country. After it was all said and done, we were the best at it."
Scouts not only acknowledged, and drooled over, that team, they never overlooked the "pest," the shortest player on the hardwood, who had lightning-quick ball-handling skills, set his teammates up and "mugged" his opponent until he got the steal.
Bogues said he had to fight for his scholarship at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
"In order to do that, you have to know what position of the team you play," Bogues said. "My position came as a point guard and learning all of the aspects of what a point guard's responsibilities were, knowing how to run a team, knowing how to make guys around you better, defensively, being a pest and learn how to not be taken advantage of because of your size."
Sherron Bogues Day - honoring his late sister in Baltimore
Bogues, still a resident of Charlotte, NC, returns to his hometown to give back to the community.
But there is one certain day that stands out among the rest.
Each summer, Bogues hosts events in Baltimore in honor of his sister Sherron Bogues, who died of cancer in 2015.
Sherron Bogues Day in Baltimore is June 27.
This year's day of events will be on Saturday, June 24.
Bogues plays a major role with his Muggsy Bogues Family Foundation which focuses food insecurity, job training and education for underserved communities.
"Our mission is to provide to the underserved," Bogues said. "We are taking on food insecurity. We also provide scholarships for trade school, and provide a platform for a kid and give them assistance."
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