By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Growing up in Louisiana, NBA star Glen “Big Baby” Davis developed a taste for his favorite meals of fried food, starches, no vegetables and powdered grape drinks.
But a series of events in his 20s shook Davis into overhauling his diet: the deaths of his father and an uncle from heart attacks; a broken foot that temporarily limited his physical activity; and the birth of his first child, Amari.
“That’s when it really dawned on me like, OK, you need to stop procrastinating,” said Davis, a power forward with the Los Angeles Clippers. “I really had to make changes to break the cycle, and also to stay relevant in my career.”
He began cutting portion sizes, increasing lean proteins and eliminating fried foods, losing a total of 68 pounds and dramatically increasing his energy level.
Now, at age 29, Davis is using his star power to spread the word about the importance of healthy eating to prevent heart disease.
On his website, iambigbaby.com, he has launched three episodes of “Big Baby TV,” videos under eight minutes long apiece that show him cooking favorite recipes such as Asian-glazed drumsticks and gluten-free pancakes while discussing how he has learned to balance his love of food with a healthy lifestyle. (His recipe for Asian-glazed drumsticks can be found on the website.)
“I want to create fun, exciting, healthy ways to teach about food that people my age would love to eat,” Davis said.
Davis was always big for his age — so big he was put with 12-year-olds to play football when he was 9. That’s how the nickname “Big Baby” came about: When the older kids would pick on him, he’d cry, and a coach chided him for being a “big baby.”
As he began to show his prowess in basketball, the name became endearing — ever more so as he became a standout at Louisiana State University and then made it to the NBA, first with the Boston Celtics, then the Orlando Magic and now the Clippers.
But with his father’s death at 57 and his increased knowledge about his genes — diabetes also runs in his family — Davis experienced an awakening of sorts. At one point, he had reached a peak weight of 360 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame.
“I think about where I’m from and all the people that are suffering from [heart disease], young men who are suffering from it, and people don’t really talk about it,” Davis said.
He began to focus on putting nutritious food into his body and set out to learn how to prepare healthy meals, hiring a personal chef to teach him. In the process, he discovered he had a true passion for cooking.
Now he can make delicious recipes such as butternut squash pasta with spicy Italian sausage. Between meals he now forgoes empty calories for simple and healthier snacks.
This off-season, Davis is working on three new episodes of Big Baby TV while also promoting healthy eating and literacy to children with his annual “Booking It With Baby” tour in Baton Rouge, which includes readings and other appearances.
His main message, to children and adults alike, is this: “Life is hard, and sometimes you’re dealt problems. The fact that you have the control to break the cycle, you have to prepare yourself and undertake the challenge.”
Photos courtesy of C.Luxe Brand Management