Illustration by Foxenawolf
|No. 24 – Biloxi Voodoo|
|Species||Kangaroo ( Macropodidae )|
|Listed height||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Listed weight||218 lb (99 kg)|
|FBA draft||2003 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall|
|Selected by the Dakota Bikers|
|Pro playing career||2003–present|
|2017-2019||Las Vegas Wildcards|
|Career highlights and awards|
|2020 Salary||$5 million|
|2021 Salary||$5 million|
|(OOC) Creator||Jayni Tigerpaw|
|(OOC) Actor||Jayni Tigerpaw|
|(OOC) Usage||Ask me before any use|
Now there's nothing unusual about kangaroos in the States. Some roo families have roots nearly to the American Revolution, having been eager to take advantage of independence from the English crown. But most came over during the second World War when cooperation between Australia and the United States had troops from both sides moving to both continents. That was when Mitch Diego's (Kangaroo, F, HNT) family arrived stateside, making sure when Crazy 8's arrived, he was fully born into California's culture. But Malone's story turned out to be much more interesting. It had the same theme as most kangaroos living in the US, starting with the military. But in Malone's case, the move came later, during the Vietnam War.
Most Americans don't even realize how significant Australian involvement in the Vietnam War was, but it was nothing short of a full commitment. Like many kangaroos his age at the time, Ryan's father was drafted into the Australian Defense Force and shipped to Vietnam where he saw active combat. I've never been able to get a clear picture of what his father experienced-- even Ryan admitted to me that his father never told him what happened there-- but the fact that he was hospitalized six times while in the country is a strong indication of what he saw. He did several tours of duty, stretching out his time in the country longer than required which at first glance seemed to show a passionate commitment to the war's cause. But looking deeper, it might have been for a jill.
Ryan's mother was an American, the daughter of a couple relocated to the States near the end of the second World War. Her father had served in the war, which encouraged her to sign up as well, serving as a nurse when America entered Southeast Asia. Certainly working well behind the front lines, Ryan's mother could more easily afford to spend year after year in Vietnam as the war dragged on its many long years. And this coyote suspects his father found being near her worth the combat wounds.
When America finally pulled out and Ryan's mother returned to the States, there is a brief time that his father went back to Australia. But it was only months later that he flew to Michigan to ask her hand in marriage. She agreed, and the couple settled in Lansing, where they still live to this day.
Ryan was their first son, born curiously late into their marriage. Suspicions came to me surrounding that, most pointing to deep emotional scars Ryan's father suffered returning from the war. Growing up, Ryan found himself receiving the usual high expectations of a first born son, made worse by a man guarding his emotions with regimentation. Ryan told me in an interview how he would be forced up at six every morning, even on weekends, was put on a regular exercise program even as a boy, and was expected to eat at very specific times.
That actually explains a lot. Malone is probably one of the most athletic players in the FBA. His body fat is incredibly low and his conditioning is never short of the best. Just look at how few games he's missed in his career and you know you're dealing with one of the fittest players in the league. But there's also a bitterness to his character, a sharpness to his language that you only see spending time with him. And that was starting to come clear as well.
Along with the life set to a timer, Ryan was straddled with expectations. His father made it clear he was expected to go into the military when we came of age, and everything he did was geared toward that. Music lessons, language classes, field trips were all forbidden. Everything was about school requirements and physical fitness, preparing him to pass military entrance exams. Basketball, as it turned out, was a fluke, something that fulfilled a physical education requirement that slipped under his father's radar. To him, it was just good exercise, perhaps especially good for a kangaroo. But his father never went to any of Ryan's games, which is why he had no idea how good Ryan was.
And Ryan was good. Quietly, Ryan overwhelmed the school, shattering records. He almost certainly benefitted from all the discipline growing up, daily exercise, eating right, the regimentation making him incredibly fit even at a young age. And his game was just sensational. But no matter how good Ryan got, his father never saw it. Ryan even told me a story of his senior year when a college recruiter stopped him after a game to ask what schools he was considering-- and his father pushes the recruiter aside, telling him "None."
When Ryan graduated from high school, his father called an army recruiter to meet him at their house. But Ryan never showed up. Quietly behind his father's back, Ryan accepted a full ride sports scholarship, and went straight to college. They even paid for his room that summer so he wouldn't have to go home.
Ryan's only seen his father a couple times since then. The first time was after Ryan left college early to put his name into the FBA draft, getting picked up by the Dakota Bikers and starting his way on his astonishing basketball career. He told me it was difficult to see him, the feelings complex, the anger stirred deep into the relationship. He was furious at his son, but his son was furious right back. But there was nothing either could do to change the other. And it's clear Ryan has inherited every bit of the stubbornness of his father-- you can see it in the way he plays his game, the way he demands perfection from his team. But what he really inherited was demands from himself. To this day, Ryan gets up at six every morning, even weekends, eats at specific times of the day, never misses a workout. And I think even he knows that's something he has to thank his father for.
But he told me he wants something first. He wants his dad to come to a Bikers game. After all these years, he never has. And he says he never will.
Words by T. Matt Latrans
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