BRYANT Reeves dominated in the paint over six NBA seasons, using his seven-foot, 290-pound frame to outmuscle fellow big men.
But injuries cut the former Vancouver Grizzlies star’s career short and so he turned to raising cattle at his dreamed-of ranch in a secluded Oklahoma countryside.
Reeves had a stellar college career, becoming one of the best players in Oklahoma State history after taking the Cowboys to the 1995 Final Four.
On the way to the semifinals, he helped knock out Tim Duncan’s Wake Forset and Marcus Camby’s UMass.
And the Oklahoma native captured the attention of the entire country when he shattered the backboard in practice before the loss to UCLA.
Born in Gans, a small Oklahoman town with a population of about 200, Reeves earned a nickname Big Country because of how stunned he was by the sheer size of the U.S. after his first cross-country flight.
But towering skyscrapers of major American cities didn’t intimidate the center after the newly-established Grizzlies picked him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.
Reeves averaged 15.2 points and 7.8 rebounds in his first three years in the league.
Then, his weight combined with the wear and tear of an athletic career started to take a toll on his body.
Reeves never got to play for the Grizzlies after they moved from Vancouver to Memphis as he started the 2001-02 season on the injured list due to a chronic back pain.
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In January 2002, he officially retired from basketball as the pain caused by degenerative spinal discs was too much to handle.
Reeves literally vanished after hanging up his shoes.
Canadian filmmaker Kat Jayme even shot a documentary titled Finding Big Country in which he tracks down the former NBA player after failing to find any mention of his post-retirement life.
Jayme eventually found Reeves living a secluded life of a cattle farmer at his 15,000-square-foot property laid at a 300-acre ranch in Sequoyah County.
He was always going to be a cowboy – even if he had never played for the Cowboys and then earned the millions of dollars in the NBA that allowed him to buy the humongous estate by the Arkansas River.
“If I hadn’t played in the NBA, I would have worked at the Whirlpool plant, had a few cows and had a good family, and I still would have been a wealthy guy,” Reeves told the Tulsa World years ago.
In fact, he spent his first NBA paycheck on a John Deere tractor.
Away from his herds of cattle, Reeves indulged in fishing and deer hunting.
He also served as base coach for his two sons’ T-ball teams.
One of them, Trey, later followed in the footsteps of his father and played basketball for Oklahoma State.
But after going undrafted in 2020, Little Country swapped the basketball jersey for an elegant suit and enrolled at Harvard Law School.
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