Shawn Paul Bradley know as Shawn Bradley (born March 22, 1972) is a German-American former professional basketball player who played center for the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, and Dallas Mavericks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Nicknamed “The Stormin’ Mormon”, Bradley was one of the tallest players in NBA history at 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m). Bradley was born in Landstuhl, West Germany, as his family was stationed at the U.S. Military base medical facility, and grew up in Castle Dale, Utah. He holds citizenship in both the United States and Germany. In January 2021, Bradley was paralyzed in a bicycle accident.
Shawn Bradley was born on March 22, 1972, in Landstuhl, West Germany, (now Germany), where his father was working at a U.S. military hospital. Bradley’s parents were both tall: his father Reiner Bradley (1949–2010) stood 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m), and his mother Teresa stands 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m).
Bradley was already 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) tall by the end of junior high school (age 13–14), and by the end of his junior year of high school (age 16–17) he had grown to 7 ft 5 in (2.26 m), one inch shy of his adult height of 7 ft 6 in (2.29 m). In 2018, genetic analysis of Bradley’s DNA showed that his great height is not the result of any physical or genetic disorders, but because he happened to inherit an extremely rare combination of the thousands of common genetic variants that determine human height.
College career and LDS mission
Bradley was heavily recruited by many colleges from across the United States, but ultimately decided to play at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. During his freshman season (1990–91), he started all 34 games for BYU, averaging 14.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. But his main contribution to the team was shot-blocking: he led the entire nation in total blocks (177) and average (5.2 per game)—setting an NCAA freshman record in both categories. In one game against Eastern Kentucky (EKU), Bradley blocked 14 shots, tying the NCAA single-game record set by Navy’s David Robinson in 1986. In that same game, Bradley also established a new career high by scoring 29 points.
BYU received a bid to the NCAA tournament that season, and Bradley continued his dominating defense. In a first-round game against Virginia, he set a tournament single-game record with 10 blocked shots, leading the Cougars to a 61-48 victory. However, he struggled with foul trouble in the second round (he received 5 personal fouls in the game), and BYU lost to Arizona, 76-61. Bradley collected several awards and honors for his outstanding freshman season. He was named the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Freshman of the Year, in addition to All-WAC defensive team and newcomer team honors. He was also named Honorable Mention All-American by the Associated Press (AP)
Bradley took a two-year leave of absence from BYU from 1991 to 1993 to serve as a full-time missionary for the LDS Church. He was assigned to serve in Sydney, Australia. After his mission, Bradley decided to forego his final three years of NCAA eligibility and declared for the NBA Draft.
Bradley entered the 1993 NBA Draft as one of the most intriguing and highly debated prospects in the history of the NBA draft. Supporters claimed his tremendous size and surprising athleticism would allow him to dominate the league. Critics argued that he would struggle in the NBA due to his thin build (listed at just 235 pounds (107 kg)) and lack of experience (just one season of college basketball, followed by a two-year hiatus from the sport due to his church mission). Ultimately, he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers with the second overall pick, behind Chris Webber and ahead of Penny Hardaway. Given the novelty of a 7-foot-6 center playing for the 76ers, Bradley was issued jersey number 76.
For much of his career, Bradley was inconsistent in scoring and rebounding, but he always excelled at blocking shots. He averaged 10.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game in his first season – good enough to earn NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors. But he shot a dismal 40.9 percent from the floor and constantly struggled with turnovers and foul trouble. He suffered a season-ending injury in February of that year, dislocating his kneecap in a collision with Portland’s Harvey Grant.
Bradley returned to full strength in his second season, playing in all 82 games for the 76ers. His scoring actually declined slightly (9.5 points per game), but his rebounding and shot-blocking increased. He racked up 274 rejections, setting a franchise record for most blocks in a single season. Bradley gave Philly fans a glimpse of his potential in a contest against the Los Angeles Clippers in November, posting career highs of 28 points and 22 rebounds in a 97-83 victory. He also tied a career high with 9 blocked shots, and was credited with 9 additional “intimidations” as the Clippers were held to their lowest-ever point total against the 76ers. He finished the season in strong fashion, posting 13 double-doubles in his last 17 games.
New Jersey Nets
Despite these highlights, Bradley continued to baffle and frustrate Philadelphia with his inconsistent play. Just 12 games into his third season (1995–96), the 76ers traded Bradley to the New Jersey Nets for Derrick Coleman. He played the final 67 games of the year with the Nets, and tantalized Nets fans with some strong play in the second half of the season. In February, he dominated a match-up against fellow giant Gheorghe Mureșan, leading the Nets to a 99–81 victory against the Washington Bullets. Bradley scored a season-high 27 points over the 7-foot-7 Mureşan, and also added 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.
Bradley lifted his game to new levels in March 1996. He posted a career-high 32 points and added 15 rebounds against Dallas early in the month, and set another career high a week later with 10 blocked shots against the Phoenix Suns. He recorded his first career triple-double in the very next game, tallying 19 points, 17 rebounds, and a career-best 11 blocked shots in another match-up against Mureşan and the Bullets. In April, Bradley posted back-to-back triple-doubles (against Boston and Toronto); in the process, he became the first player in NBA history to record consecutive games of double-figure blocked shots twice in a single season. His season averages for 1995–96 were 11.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game – all career highs.
The Nets began the 1996–97 season under new management: John Calipari was named head coach in the off-season, and John Nash replaced Willis Reed as general manager. Reed had been a big believer in Bradley, but Calipari and Nash weren’t nearly as excited about the 7-foot-6 enigma. In an effort to save some cash against the salary cap, the Nets traded their big center (and his big contract) to the Dallas Mavericks in a blockbuster mid-season deal that involved nine players.
Bradley embraced yet another “fresh start” with a new franchise. With increased playing time in Dallas, Bradley posted some of the best numbers of his career. In a game against the Clippers, he tied his career high by scoring 32 points – the most ever by a center in the history of the Mavericks franchise. He also added a season-high 16 rebounds in that same contest. He finished the year with averages of 13.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game – breaking career highs set during the previous season. But most importantly, Bradley provided strong defense in the paint that Dallas had been lacking before his arrival. In fact, Bradley finished the year as the top shot-blocker in the entire league, averaging 3.4 swats per contest. It was the first time any Mavericks player had ever led the NBA in any statistical category.
Bradley played 7 more seasons in the league, remaining with the Mavericks until his retirement in 2005. Over that span, his playing time slowly declined, mainly due to some injuries and constant juggling of the team’s lineups and rotations by coach Don Nelson. In particular, Bradley’s offensive role became very limited, but he remained an imposing defensive presence. In fact, in the 2000–01 season, he broke his own team record by blocking 228 shots for Dallas – the highest total in the NBA that year. The Mavericks emerged as a perennial playoff contender, mostly due to the rise of star players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, but Bradley’s defense made a significant contribution. He finished his career with averages of 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in 23.5 minutes of action per game.
National team career
Bradley has competed internationally for Germany; he and Dallas teammate Dirk Nowitzki were members of the German national basketball team that finished in fourth place at the EuroBasket 2001 in Turkey. In order to participate in this tournament, Bradley made use of his birth by a German mother to obtain German citizenship.
After his retirement as a player, Bradley became involved with West Ridge Academy, a coeducational private school for at-risk youths in West Jordan, Utah. Bradley’s role with the school involves some of the functions of a vice principal, counselor, and coach. Describing Bradley, school executive director Ken Allen said, “Shawn has a great presence—due to his size—and has immediate credibility with the kids. His instant credibility when he’s talking to kids makes him an incredible mentor. He is a great example of someone who has worked hard and been very successful. Being so tall wasn’t always easy for him. He knows about being the ‘odd kid’ and dealing with that.”
On March 19, 2010, Bradley filed papers to run as a Republican against incumbent Democratic Representative Tim Cosgrove for the 44th District seat in the Utah House of Representatives. On November 2, 2010, Bradley lost the election to Cosgrove, earning 46.49% of the vote against Cosgrove’s 51.13%.
Bradley has participated in many charitable endeavors. In the 2000–01 season he donated $25 for each blocked shot to Bryan’s House, a managed facility for children affected by HIV and AIDS. He is a national spokesman for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Bradley has also participated in the “Basketball Without Borders” program with other NBA players like Dikembe Mutombo, DeSagana Diop and Malik Rose and found his experiences with children in Africa uplifting. He has also participated in treating leprosy colonies in India through the Rising Star Outreach.
As a member of the LDS Church, while in the NBA, Bradley was fined for refusing to attend a mandatory meeting at a strip club, due to his religious beliefs.
Bradley and his first wife, Annette, had six children together.
On January 20, 2021, Bradley was struck from behind by an automobile while riding his bicycle near his home in St. George, Utah, which resulted in a traumatic spinal cord injury in his neck that left him paralyzed.
TV and movie appearances
Bradley had a role in the film Space Jam in 1996, depicted as one of the NBA stars who lose their talent alongside Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing. He also appeared as himself in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, and had a cameo appearance as an auto mechanic in The Singles Ward movie. In 2011, he appeared in a music video tribute to Jimmer Fredette, along with former BYU football star Chad Lewis and legendary coach LaVell Edwards. He has also appeared in an episode of Studio C.
Bradley was featured in the ESPN 30 for 30 short documentary “Posterized” given his propensity “for being on the wrong end of a lot of great dunks.”
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|*||Led the league|
Source : Wikipedia