Bam Bam Bamiro of the Harlem Globetrotters used to be Solomon Bamiro of Central Islip, a nondescript walk-on at Stony Brook University.
"He was an awful player and we were an awful team,'' SBU basketball coach Steve Pikiell said good-naturedly.
Bamiro, 25, chuckled at Pikiell's comment. "It definitely is amazing,'' he said. "I didn't think anything like this would happen for me.''
The Globetrotters will perform at Nassau Coliseum Monday as Bamiro returns home during Black History Month.
"So many players in those early years overcame significant racial and social barriers to pave the road for African-Americans both on and off the court,'' the second-year Globetrotter said. "As a current player, it is important to understand our place in history.''
Bamiro averaged only 4.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in his college career, but Pikiell got him a tryout with the Harlem Wizards, an offshoot of the Globetrotters.
"The Wizards brought him in as a leaper,'' Pikiell said. "They loved him and he parlayed that into an opportunity.''
At a 2008 tryout for the Globetrotters, the 6-6 Bamiro literally stood out by leaps and bounds.
"He gets up in the air and that's what we like,'' said former Globetrotter Sweet Lou Dunbar, the director of player personnel. "When you see a guy throw it down from above the rim, that's the power that Bam Bam's got. If he was in the NBA [slam-dunk] contest, he might have a shot at it.''
Former Stony Brook teammate Ricky Lucas said of Bamiro: "He could always jump out of the gym. He worked our camps and once he jumped over a kid.''
Jay Young, Pikiell's assistant, has watched Bamiro. "He's a big part of the show,'' Young said. "He is very involved in their shticks and routines and every time they want one of those spectacular dunks, they give it to him.''
Bamiro's job with the Globetrotters is full-time and he earns in excess of $100,000 per year. He is on the road for eight months a year and has visited six foreign countries.
Bamiro's role transcends basketball. "My part is to first entertain, keep a smile on people's faces, make the kids happy,'' he said.
Bamiro's younger brother Michael, who plays football for Stony Brook, said: "We are real excited and very proud of him. At home he is quiet, calm and chillin'. On the stage, he's a whole other person. He's a showman.''
The script always calls for the Globetrotters to win. That's fine with Bamiro.
"We lost a lot of games at Stony Brook,'' he said. "Coming to the Globetrotters rekindled my fire for winning. Why would I ever want to lose again?''