Paul Sturgess, world’s tallest basketball player, visits Wybers Wood
On 16th September, pupils and staff at Wybers Wood were in for a huge surprise; a visit from the tallest man in basketball, Paul Sturgess. Paul measures 7ft 7in and is currently also the tallest man in Britain.
Paul visited the academy to perform tricks, basketball drills and to give an account of his life growing up. The Guinness World Record holder also spoke about the challenges he faced and how he managed to turn something that makes him different into a positive.
Paul arrived just in time for the whole-school assembly and sat down at the front. As the children came in, they could see Paul, but he was sat down. This made the illusion that he was not too different in size to any other adult in school. After an introduction, Paul stood up and shock spread accross the faces of pupils and staff. Paul’s focus was on his height and how it was a challenge for him growing up. He expressed that he was only 6’4 until the age of 14, then just carried on growing and growing. He understands that he is interesting to look at and treats that difference as a positive. “I know people look at me and see me as being different to others. But I have made the most of this gift and I love myself for that”.
During the assembly, he showcased some of his basketball videos from his time in the NBA, where he played against some of the game’s greats like Lebron James. He played for the Harlem Globetrotters for three years, touring the world, and has starred in films including Avatar 2, Lord of the Rings and Fantastic Beasts. To end the assembly, Paul invited some pupils to try out some basketball tricks which included ‘around the worlds’, spinning the ball on your finger, and various ways to pass the ball.
After the assembly, Paul spent the remainder of the day hosting sessions for all the year groups in school. He taught the pupils how to dribble with the importance of keeping your head up, and dribbling with both hands. He also gave the pupils photo opportunities and spent time completing a Q&A with each year group.
Finley in Year 6 said, “It was an amazing day and I will never forget it!”, Jack in Year 5 (one of the lucky pupils to work with Paul during assembly) said, “It was really funny because I had to try and pass the ball with my bottom, and I couldn’t do it! It was ace though and he is really cool”.
Every child was given a signed photo from Paul to remember their day and pupils left school full of excitement, enthusiasm, and courage to be whoever they aspired to be. Wybers Wood would like to thank Paul for his incredible visit.