The man who is perhaps Wichita State's most famous former basketball player (with apologies to Xavier McDaniel) had a largely forgettable career.
In one season on the team he averaged 2 points and 2.1 rebounds in 21 games as a reserve center. A tragic series of events led the 7-footer to leave the basketball squad, but he still looks back fondly on his time in Wichita.
"Everything in this life has a way of working out the way it's supposed to," Paul Wight said on a radio interview. "I learned a lot of life lessons at Wichita State when I was there."
If the name Paul Wight doesn't sound familiar, that's because you may know this man by his stage name, the Big Show. That's right, the 7-foot WWE star once suited up for the Shockers. Wight was recruited to Wichita State by former coach Mike Cohen. But after the 1992 season Cohen was fired, and Wight's father and grandfather both passed away.
Understandably, Wright chose to leave the team. But he insists there are no hard feelings.
"I'm happy for the program, I'm happy for Wichita itself," Wright said of the Shockers' first Final Four appearance since 1965. "It's just a great thing. I know how much it means for that university."
Even though he didn't see the court much, and the man who recruited him to Wichita State was gone after one season, Wright says he learned a lot from his time on the team.
“It was good for me as a human being to go from an arrogant, cocky SOB to being humbled a little bit," Wight told Fox Sports. "Of all my experiences at Wichita State -- now I'm a 41-year-old adult that has children of my own -- humbling wasn't a bad thing for me. It wasn't a bad thing to sit on the bench. Some of the lessons I learned from my college basketball days definitely help me now.”
Wight transferred to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, but an injury led him to give up basketball for good. He worked a few odd jobs before going into pro wrestling in 1995. Now, some two decades after he laced up for the Shockers, Wight is one of the WWE's most recognizable wrestlers.
This weekend figures to be especially memorable for Wight, as not only will Wichita State be squaring off against Louisville for a spot in the national championship game, Wight himself will be taking part in WrestleMania 29 in New York.
Looking back on his circuitous route to stardom, Wight says he would advise current college student-athletes not to "put all your eggs in one basket."
"I started out thinking I was going to play in the NBA, now I travel the world as a WWE Superstar," Wight told Sports Illustrated. "Life changes."
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