APRIL 11, 1983
Four years after retiring from the NBA, former Utah Jazz forward Thurl Bailey is juggling four new professions. Bailey the baritone has performed three times with the Utah Symphony and released three CDs (total sales topping 100,000), the latest a silky R&B compilation, I'm Not the Same, that came out in February 2003. Bailey the television broadcaster does color commentary for Jazz and University of Utah games on Salt Lake City station KJZZ. Bailey the businessman is part-owner of a company that developed and sells a system for spreading fertilizer through sprinkler systems. But it's Bailey the motivational speaker, at up to $10,000 a pop, who pays the bills.
Bailey makes more than 160 appearances annually, energizing corporate crowds with speeches on teamwork and triumph. Whenever appropriate, he mixes music into his presentations. At a real estate conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, in September, he cajoled several brokers in the audience into joining him onstage. "I told them I wanted to take my show on the road and I needed my Thurlettes backing me up," says Bailey. "We sang together. I talked. We had a good time."
Bailey's apprenticeship as a motivator began at N.C. State in the early 1980s, when he and his teammates gathered around coach Jim Valvano, the master of the locker room pep talk. "When he arrived in my sophomore year, we didn't know who this little Italian guy was," says Bailey, "but Coach V sure talked a good talk. He made us believe."
As a senior the inspired Bailey led the Wolfpack in scoring (16.7) and rebounding (7.7). After winning the ACC tournament in March 1983, N.C. State upset UNLV and Virginia in the NCAAs before defeating Houston, the Phi Slamma Jamma team that featured Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, in the championship game.
Three months later Utah made Bailey, a 6'11" small forward with a lethal jump hook, the No. 7 pick in the draft. In 12 NBA seasons, 2� with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he averaged 13.1 points and 5.1 rebounds a game but made his mark as an unselfish, high-scoring sixth man on the Jazz, one of the best passing teams in the league.
Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Seat Pleasant, Md., Bailey, 42, is now firmly rooted in Salt Lake City. He joined the Mormon church in 1995 and lives in the Cottonwood area with his wife of nine years, Sindi, and their two children, BreElle, 8, and Brendan, 6. ( Bailey also has two sons from his first marriage, Thurl Jr., 18, and Tevaun, 13, who live in North Carolina with their mother.) "I've worked hard to make my dreams come true," says Bailey, who was a torchbearer for the Salt Lake City Olympics and sang at several venues during the Games. "My mission is to use my experience to inspire people, to help them make changes in their lives too."