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How one man found his calling as a Mavs ManiAAC

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Twenty years ago this week, a group of plus-sized guys walked onto the basketball court during a break in a Dallas Mavericks playoff game. They performed a dance routine, and they're still dancing today. The Mavs ManiAACs are a group of self-proclaimed beefy guys.

ROB MAIDEN: You have JJ.

DANIEL JACOB: Chunky D.

MAIDEN: Pork Chops.

JACOB: Wonder Bread.

MAIDEN: Well, I just called him Bread.

JACOB: I just called him Wonder.

MAIDEN: We're so lazy. If your name has more than two syllables, we're not going to use 'em.

MARTINEZ: That's "Big Rob" Maiden and Daniel "Boy Ain't Right" Jacob, two members of The ManiAACs. At StoryCorps, they talked about how it all got started.

MAIDEN: I'll never forget - going from the ninth grade to the 10th, I went from 5'6" to 6'3" over the summer. It was so bad that my mom thought something was wrong with me, but my dad loved football. So he would say to me, man, if I would've known you were going to be this big, I would have made you play. You should be a tight end right now. I should be at the games. I said, well, I wasn't really into a lot of people hitting me. Nah, I was good. I'll pass.

The ManiAACs - we're just big guys dancing.

JACOB: And it's all good-natured...

MAIDEN: Yeah.

JACOB: ...But it's pushing the envelope.

MAIDEN: We'll start out fully dressed, but we kind of end with some exposed bellies and...

JACOB: We have half shirts, which shows off a little more skin.

MAIDEN: A lot more skin if you're my size.

But my father is a man's man, so he didn't get any of that stuff. I would invite him to games all the time, and he'd give me a million excuses as to why - like, I have to get up early tomorrow. Well, I don't want to drive at night. But I will never forget - he came, and he met me after the game, and he's watching all these folks come up to us. We're signing autographs, and a fan had my face on his shirt. I looked at my dad, and I said, can you believe that? That guy said, did you say that's your father? And I said, yeah. And he said, sir, would you sign this? My father never signed an autograph in his life. I won't ever forget the look on my father's face. And he did not stop talking about it - you know, how much he just respected me as a man because he said, you look like you really were born to do this.

And it really stuck with me because now, when I'm raising my kids, I'm not as hard on them about what they're trying to do with their life because I just have this belief that it's going to work out. And, you know, so far (laughter), life has worked out pretty good. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jasmyn Morris
Kamilah Kashanie (she/her) is the host of the StoryCorps Podcast. Kashanie's love for radio is rooted in her desire to understand more about what makes us who we are. As a storyteller, she's committed to starting conversations to make lasting changes in underserved communities, and to craft narratives that help give voice to individuals who would not otherwise have a platform to tell their stories. She's also a graduate of the Transom Audio Storytelling Workshop and the host of Feeling My Flo, a reported podcast about menstruation from PRX and Lantigua-Williams & Co.