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Wilt The Chopper; Wilt’s Son An Axeman

A recent Sports Illustrated cover showed a man calling himself Wilt’s son.

Why on the cover and why Wilt Chamberlain?

The Big Dipper is called the most transformative athlete in sports. At least in basketball. That ought to be enough.

But he’s dead. Been dead a while.

Why drag up the past?

My 88 year old mother in law read the story about Aaron Levi and didn’t give it much praise.

Wilt’s son didn’t raise her interest, but she’s born and bred in England which means be true to the empire.

My millennial son didn’t read it. Why? Said he didn’t care. While I didn’t ask further, I think I know why he didn’t care.

I read the story from a father’s point of view. With two kids it usually turns out that way. Something happens between the positive pregnancy test and the delivery room with dads.

And it doesn’t go away.

The ones who stay on the job parenting their kids read the Aaron Levi story and know his life would have been different if he had had his father on board.

Instead he was put up for adoption and found a home with a couple in Eugene, Oregon. Who got divorced when he was young.

If you know kids of early divorce, then you know the hole that blows in their lives. Adopted kids of divorced parents must have an exponent number attached to those feelings.

Self worth? Self esteem? Belonging somewhere? Anywhere? That’s so much to work through. Lots of hurdles. Wilt was athlete enough to clear most hurdles; son of Wilt not so much.

Whether you date on a Wilt Chamberlain approved program and establish a lifetime mark for partners, or not, consider this: there are consequences to your actions you should not ignore.

Call it joining the human race.

It’s too late for Wilt, not Wilt’s son.

From famous athletes marking score cards each week, to the man married to their one true love, the common denominators are women and children.

Wilt said he didn’t have any kids. No ‘little Wilties’ out there for him. That was his story and he stuck to it.

And he was probably wrong.

Unless you’ve been married more often than you can remember and fathered too many kids with too many birthdays to log into your calendar, women and children have a special place in your heart.

Babies grow up to become their own person. You did it, I did it, but at first babies are all yours.

You do everything you can for them. Hungry? Feed them. Cold? Warm them up with a snuggle. Cranky? Walk them in your arms. Rock them.

Wilt Chamberlain tarnished his greatness with neglect and ignorance. Moving from one night stand to one night stand isn’t a sign of anything but selfishness and insecurity. Why isn’t it manly?

A shallow man finds himself out of his depth when confronted by strong women who stand behind what they say.

A shrinking man gets smaller when they can’t answer a woman’s question coming out of the obstetrician’s office, “What do we do now?”

Wilt’s son got a boost from growing up in Oregon.

There are far worse places to live than Eugene and far worse schools than South Eugene.

What could be worse than finding your mother and traveling to England to visit only to learn that she doesn’t want to introduce you to her family?

What’s worse than contacting your father’s family to learn that they didn’t want to know about you, don’t want further contact, and refuse to acknowledge your existence?

I called my mom on Mother’s Day one year to tell her I couldn’t come down.

She was not happy. I could tell when she rattled off the timeline of my conception. My dad hitch hiked up from San Francisco where he was stationed with the Marine Corps.

Ma got her mom to watch older brother so she could spend the night in a hotel with dad. During the conversation on Mother’s Day my mom rattled off every form of birth control on the market in 1954.

I beat them all.

She didn’t plan on being pregnant so soon after her first kid, but things brightened up a bit when she found out I was going to be a girl.

After I popped out with all the baby boy gear she found herself trapped with one kid who spent the day beating his head on everything he found while he tried gnawing his way out of his crib, and another who watched the action silently.

Life in a Quonset hut was never better.

As a three year old my folks took me in for a check up because I had an odd walk. The doctor diagnosed me with dwarfism. With that knowledge I grew into a 6″3″ man, the tallest female dwarf on the books.

My mom topped off the pep talk on mother’s day by explaining what happened to the family dog and cat from my youth.

The dog bit one too many people; the cat got explosively ill all over the garage. “You’re dad took them out and shot them,” she said. “What do you think of that?”

Only one answer would work here. “I’m glad I didn’t bite anyone or get sick in the garage, Mom.”

That was the last Mother’s Day I missed. I didn’t want to hear anymore tales of childhood.

Wilt’s son wanted to hear about his early years?

Maybe you didn’t miss as much as you think, Aaron. What if Wilt had been a shaker? Your own Terrible Two’s might have been the end of the road.

Find Your Best. Give Your Best.

For all of the ladies men at the club, the smooth operators planning their next highlight; for all the Tiger Woods and Shawn Kemps and Evander Holyfields; for all the players playing the game on one side of the ball, remember this: When you get a knock on the door and person outside looks too much like you to ignore, it’s a new game.

Wilt’s son looks enough like Wilt to invite him in. Except Wilt’s dead. What’s that make him?

Wilt Chamberlain is the biggest loser to never answer that door.

The sweet little English birth mother who refused to open up her family for the son she put up for adoption? Shame on you, ma’am.

To Wilt’s sisters protecting his legacy? You need a new dictionary to find the meaning of legacy.

A final thought: When you’re out having the time of your life on the greatest day you’ve ever lived, compare it to other days almost as special and be thankful you have someone to share with.

Wilt’s son, along with everyone else who’s faced the locked door of family selfishness, will never have that day to share.

For you expecting parents, for parents of young children and old, tell them how important they are. Show them they matter, that they make a difference in your life.

Then roll the ball out. It’s never to soon.

About David Gillaspie


  1. I don’t do social media and don’t even know if this message will be received by anyone. I would really like to contact Aaron Levi. I am an English guy who got very interested in US basketball after reading Heaven is a Playground. I want to contact Aaron direct and tell him – you WERE important to Wilt. Not as important as a son should be, of course, nothing like – you know that. But you are all that survives of Wilt.

    Even if you weren’t hugely important to him (though I’d bet my life that he gave the odd thought to his son, even though he kept quiet about it) there is something else – he is dead. We all die. We don’t think about it much, we avoid the heavy stuff, but even if only out of egoism, we want to leave something behind, So you WOULD matter to him now, even if you didn’t matter to him so much when he was alive. Imagine someone talking to Wilt now – you’d be everything to him.

    Aaron, I don’t think Wilt’s family is going to help you, you have to dig deeper and see it as it must be! I’d really like this email to reach Aaron if anyone can do it.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Dear Jim Arnold,

      Will Aaron find your comment on boomerpdx? Stranger things have happened. People have found others here and it’s about as sweet a meeting you’ve ever seen.

      If I’m reading you correctly, you sense that Wilt would like the idea of being a father. I like the idea, too. He’s was a Big Show all by himself, a man on the run, on the go, and meeting the ladies at every stop.

      Growing up in the sixties, and coming of age in the seventies, my generation was expected to stop, drop, and dive in. Young men and women surprised each other all the time, and it if didn’t work out then, it would later.

      That’s not what happened, of course. With multiple divorces, children from a variety of unions, and the idea that ‘open’ relationships are the most honest in the world, one size didn’t fit all.

      Some regrouped and found religion in their quest to right their perceived wrongs. Some moved cavalierly along with little or no regard, and certainly no responsibility, for their actions.

      Which way would Wilt move? Let’s hope together he would embrace the joy of life in a different frame than the one he was used to seeing.

      Thank for coming in, Jim.

      Best regards,

      David Gillaspie, Oregon’s Boomer Blogger

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