Antigua during a Kentucky Wildcats game
|Born||1973 (age 39–40)
|Listed height||6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)|
|Listed weight||210 lb (95 kg)|
|High school||St. Raymond's (Bronx, New York)|
|NBA draft||1995 / Undrafted|
|Career highlights and awards|
Orlando Antigua a.k.a. "Hurricane" (born 1973), an American basketball player, became the first Hispanic and the first non-black to play for the Harlem Globetrotters in 52 years when he signed in 1995.
Raised in the Bronx, Antigua overcame various obstacles early in his life, among them having to live with a bullet lodged in his head for many years, before he was able to play for the Globetrotters. After his retirement from playing professional basketball he was named an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Panthers, the Memphis Tigers, and most recently, the Kentucky Wildcats. He is also currently the head coach of the Dominican Republic national basketball team.
Antigua was born in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother. The family moved to New York City and lived in the Bronx where he was raised. There Antigua and his two siblings received their primary and secondary education. He attended St. Raymond's High School, where he played basketball.
On Halloween night in 1988, Antigua became the victim of a drive-by shooting and was shot in the head near his left eye. He recovered from the shooting, however the doctors were unable to retrieve the slug from his head. He was back playing basketball just two weeks after the incident and gained media attention as the kid who’d taken a bullet to the head in a drive-by in his rough Bronx neighborhood. During this period of his life Antigua's family also went through a period of homelessness. He kept the family together while housing was secured.
He overcame these difficulties and went on to serve as student council president at his high school and played a major role in the program's New York Catholic League Championship run under head coach Gary DeCaesare. As a senior, he earned McDonald's All America, All-New York City and Parade All America Second Team honors. Antigua also played on the Gauchos youth basketball team. He caught the attention of various scouts during his high school playing days and was signed with the University of Pittsburgh.
From 1991 to 1995 Antigua played basketball for the Pittsburgh Panthers, the University of Pittsburgh's basketball team. Antigua's performance, during his freshman and sophomore years under coach Paul Evans, contributed an appearance in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament) second round, and the following season, an NCAA tournament berth. Antigua was named the United States Basketball Writers' Association (USBWA) Most Courageous Athlete in 1994, an honor presented annually to the college basketball player who displays exceptional courage both on and off the floor. As a member of the Panthers, Antigua ranks 11th all-time in career 3-pointers made (117) and sixth in career 3-point field goal percentage (.386). He also ranks among the school's career leaders in blocked shots with 78, the 12th best total in Panthers history.
Basketball in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic
Antigua was able to play basketball in Puerto Rico's basketball league and in the Dominican league because of his parents Puerto Rican and Dominican roots.
During his college years he would spend his summers (1994–95 and 1997–98) playing for the Gigantes de Carolina (Carolina Giants) a team which belonged to the Puerto Rican basketball league or as it is known in the island El Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN). During one summer, while Antigua was playing in Puerto Rico, he began to suffer from a severe ear pain. He thought he had an infection from being at the beach, however it turned out that the bullet that was lodged in his head had moved down into his ear canal. Surgeons removed the bullet and Antigua has not experienced any pain associated with the injury since.
In 1998, Antigua played for the National Basketball Team of the Dominican Republic which came close to representing the country in the Olympics and World championships for the first time in the history of its program. The team, however fell short in the qualifications. Among his teammates were fellow SBL player Franklyn Western, of the Vaqureos de Bayamon (Bayamon Cowboys) and NBA player Felipe López.
In December 1995, Antigua graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in social sciences. He received offers from various NBA teams to attend their camps and also received offers from European scouts, but instead he decided to sign a deal to play for the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters. Antigua, thus became the first Hispanic and the first non-black player on the Globetrotters' roster since Bob Karstens played with the squad in 1942–43. He made his debut as a Globetrotter in Pittsburgh and was nicknamed "Hurricane" because of his dazzling moves and quickness.
During the seven years in which he played with the Globetrotters, he represented the squad in 49 different countries and on tours to South America, South Africa and on the acclaimed "Youth in Our Lives Tour." Antigua met many people such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. He did commercials and showed his skills on the Late Show with David Letterman and in Regis and Kathy Lee. According to Antigua, he rates meeting Nelson Mandela in South Africa as his finest day. He retired from the Globetrotters in February 2002.
From 2002–03, Antigua served as an assistant basketball coach at Mt. Lebanon High School under Joey David and worked as a sales representative for Cavanaugh Promotions in the North Hills. In 2003, Antigua joined University of Pittsburgh's Head Coach Jamie Dixon's staff as the director of men's basketball operations, and on June 7, 2006, was named an assistant coach. In 2008, Antigua was hired as an assistant coach for the University of Memphis men's basketball program where he joined head coach John Calipari's staff. He then followed Calipari to the University of Kentucky to take an assistant's job there. He is also currently the head coach of the Dominican Republic national basketball team. Antigua lives with his wife Dana, son Orlando Anthony and daughter Olivia in Lexington.
Awards and recognitions
Among the many awards and recognitions which Antigua has received are the following:
- 1991–95 Named the United States Basketball Writers' Association Most Courageous Athlete award recipient
- Named to Big East All-Rookie Team after the 1991–92 season; started in 78 games, averaged 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 116 career games from 1991–95; concluded career as one of Pittsburgh's best all-time three-point shooters (.386- 117–303).
- Named one of the nation's top-100 most influential Hispanic Americans by Hispanic Business magazine.
- Paese, Gabrielle (2007). "Antigua Breaks Ground For Latinos In NCAA Basketball". Puerto Rico Herald 7 (30). Retrieved February 5, 2009.
- "Sports People: Basketball — A Non-Black Player Joins Globetrotters". New York Times. December 28, 1995. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
- "Orlando Antigua Profile". University of Pittsburgh Official Athletics Site. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
- Fittipaldo, Ray (December 5, 2006). "Pitt assistant Orlando Antigua knows pain of Duquesne gunshot victim". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
- "Orlando Antigua Named Tiger Basketball Assistant Coach". Memphis Tigers Men's Basketball. June 10, 2008. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
- "Antigua, Robic, Strickland Named Basketball Assistants". University of Kentucky. May 19, 2009. Retrieved May 19, 2009.