This is a picture of Dennis Rodman walking next to a little person dressed in the same outfit as Rodman. Next to them are the words: Dennis Rodman's Growth Spurt

Dennis Rodman’s Growth Spurt: Life Changing!

Dennis Rodman grew 8 inches in one year at the age of nineteen. Rodman went from a 5’11” young man who did not play high school basketball to a 6’7” man who got a scholarship to Central Oklahoma University. From there, Rodman was on to the NBA and the Hall of Fame. 

Dennis Rodman’s Childhood

Dennis Rodman was born in New Jersey to parents named Shirley and Philander Rodman. Philander  mostly played no role in Rodman’s life growing up.

At a very young age, Rodman moved to Dallas, Texas with his Mom and two sisters – Debra and Kim. The girls were the basketball stars in the Rodman family growing up. 

Both of Rodman’s sisters were high school basketball stars who went on to become college All Americans. They played at Division 1 basketball schools Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana Tech.

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Dennis Rodman Signed Poster

As for Dennis, he was not particularly successful in sports growing up. His Mom nicknamed him the Worm at a young age because of his habit of squirming around while playing pinball.  

But real sports were not something Rodman excelled at. Dennis the Menace was a 5’6” high school freshman who did not grow too much during his high school years.

He graduated high school having never made the high school basketball team. I wrote here that he is the best American basketball player not to have played in high school.

Rodman finished high school at 5’11” tall and without much of an athletic future in sight. 

When did Dennis Rodman have a growth spurt? 

After finishing high school, Rodman went to work at an airport where he found some trouble. Rodman stole watches from a store in the airport and was arrested.

He had given the watches to friends.  The Worm avoided major trouble by convincing those friends to return them. 

It was at that point in his life that Rodman had his huge growth spurt. Between the ages of 19-20 Dennis Rodman grew 8 full inches from 5’11 to 6’7”. Some sources say it happened in under a year, but Rodman is quoted in the video below saying it was about 1.5 years. 

After his huge growth spurt, Rodman began playing pickup ball in a local rec center in Texas. At the rec center, Rodman caught the eye of a junior college coach.

He went on to play one season at a junior college in Texas where he had great success on the court but also found some trouble off of it.

Rodman got another great opportunity after leaving junior college when he was given a scholarship to play basketball at SE Oklahoma State, an NAIA school.

At SE Oklahoma, Rodman was a force. Watch the video below where you can see Rodman’s dominance. 

Rodman would go on to be one of the greatest defensive players  and rebounders in NBA history, so it is no surprise that he was dominant at the NAIA level. 

But what is shocking is how great a scorer he was in college. Rodman averaged 7 points per game for his NBA career. But in college he got buckets! 

Rodman averaged 26 points per game at SE Oklahoma and you can see how in the video. He gets a lot of put backs but also scores using hook shots, turnarounds and midrange jumpers. 

Watching him play, it’s obvious why he was named a 3x NAIA All American. 

After declaring for the 1986 NBA draft, Rodman was picked in the 2nd round by the Detroit Pistons and the rest is history. 

He won two titles with the Pistons and three more with the Chicago Bulls. Individually, he made the Hall of Fame in 2011. 

Did Dennis Rodman Have the Biggest Growth Spurt in NBA History? 

The question of who had the biggest growth spurt in NBA history is mostly unanswerable. How do you decide what qualifies as a growth spurt? 

Is there some set number of inches that separates growth spurts from normal growth? If there is, I don’t know where the line is. 

Manute Bol was 7’7”. It sure seems likely that, at some point, he grew more than 8 inches in a year. But he also grew up in Africa, and less is documented about the details of his life growing up, so we just don’t know. 

Even among most American players, huge growth spurts would seem to be the norm rather than the exception: many NBA players are taller than 7’0”. 

They grew a lot at some point! We just don’t know about most of their growth spurts.  

Of the well-known growth spurts that changed NBA careers, it is widely believed that David Robinson had the biggest one. I wrote about it here.  

Robinson grew from 5’9” to 6’7” in high school then had a further growth spurt at the Naval Academy that brought him to 7’0”. That means his growth spurt was at least 15 inches. 

By the time he was done growing, the Admiral was too tall to serve normal duty on a ship and worked out a deal to serve only two years in the Naval Reserve before beginning his NBA career. 

Interestingly, Rodman and Robinson were teammates for two disastrous years in San Antonio. Rodman actually headbutted an opponent in the first year then went off on the coach during the playoffs in his second year drawing a suspension for insubordination.

Rodman was moved along after that second season but it worked out for him as he joined Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan and the Bulls for their second threepeat. 

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Rodman & Jordan Poster

Rodman was brought in to replace the role Horace Grant filled in the first threepeat, and it worked pretty well. 

Pippen himself was also known for a huge growth spurt.  He went from a walk-on point guard to an absolute star small forward while at Central Arkansas University.

Summary: Dennis Rodman’s Growth Spurt

Dennis Rodman had a famous growth spurt that changed his life. He went from a 5’11” airport employee to a 6’7” college basketball player from the ages of 19-20. Rodman went on to get a scholarship, dominate at the NAIA level and get drafted by the Detroit Pistons of the NBA.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Adapted from:

Dennis Rodman and Mini Me” by OPEN Sports is licensed under CC BY 2.0.Copy text

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