Drive: The Story of Muggsy Bogues
When Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues was growing up, no one expected him to be an NBA star. At only 5' 3", Muggsy was short, putting him at a serious disadvantage in a league where the average height is 6' 7". But he ignored the naysayers, and went on to have a successful basketball career despite the odds stacked against him. During his 16-year career in the NBA, Muggsy became a fan favorite - a symbol of hard work, drive, and determination. "I always believed in myself," he told Hank Hersch of Sports Illustrated. "That's the type of attitude I always took out on the floor, knowing that I belonged; that with my talents, my abilities, there's a place for me out there."
The Genetics of Height
Height is determined partly by genes and partly by additional factors, such as whether a person had a healthy diet while growing up. But the genetics of height is complex. One recent study found that numerous genes influence a person's height . The most conclusive study to date pinpointed an individual gene that influences the trait, but it accounts for only a centimeter of a person's stature - a tiny fraction of the total variation in human height . As more studies are conducted, we will almost certainly discover more about the genetic basis of height.
Genetics is Not Your Destiny
The good news is, genetics isn't necessarily destiny. The story of Muggsy Bogues is a clear example of why genes alone cannot predict a person's effectiveness or success in a certain activity. Muggsy Bogues used his strengths - quickness, speed, and explosiveness - to his advantage.
When he was growing up, Muggsy and his friends practiced dunking using open-bottomed milk crates hung on the Baltimore playground fences. It was at high school where Bogues earned his catchy nickname, "Muggsy", a reference to his physical style of play.
Muggsy was a standout collegiate player at Wake Forest University, where he set an Atlantic Coast Conference record for assists. He was drafted in the first round of the NBA and led the Charlotte Hornets to the playoffs in 1992 and 1995. Following his NBA career, Muggsy went on to become the coach of a women's NBA team, the Charlotte Sting, where he was shorter than all of the female players he coached.
Muggsy's storied career demonstrates that with hard work and determination, you can beat the odds and accomplish your goals. As he once told the children's magazine Highlights for Children, "You can't dwell on what people think you can't do."
-  Visscher et al. (2007) "Genome partitioning of genetic variation for height from 11,214 sibling pairs." Amer J Hum Genet 81(5):1104-10.
-  Weedon et al. (2007) "A common variant of HMGA2 is associated with adult and childhood height in the general population. Nat Genet 39(10):1245-1250.