Grambling’s Larry Wright rose from humble beginnings to ‘Legend’-ary status

Larry Wright, left, with the late Mary Hobdy, wife of his former coach at Grambling.

Larry Wright, the product of a single-parent home in the poorest part of southside Monroe, never let his humble beginnings slow him down. He helped teams win basketball championships in high school and college, then titles in the National Basketball Association and overseas.

That fiery determination will be recognized with Wright’s induction on July 16 as part of the third class of the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame.

The class also includes former Super Bowl winner Everson Walls, former Pro Bowl MVP James “Shack” Harris and College Football Hall of Fame coach Douglas Porter, among others. Sold-out ceremonies will be held at 6 p.m. the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center on the Grambling campus.

“The best small guard we’ve ever had, pound for pound the best guard,” Wright’s coach, the late Hobdy, once said. “A great jumper, he gets an ‘A’ in every category.”

Wright was a two-time Parade All-American at Richwood, where he won a Louisiana state Class 3A title in 1972 as a junior under former Grambling standout Herschel West, then transferred to Western High in Washington D.C., as a senior. There, he played for future Grambling athletics director Robert Piper.

“Having an opportunity to play at Grambling, following in the footsteps of my high school coach Herschel West, it was overwhelming,” Wright said. “The biggest thing I did not want to do was to let him down.”

The Southwestern Athletic Conference’s freshman of the year in 1973, Wright would go on to garner all-conference and NCAA small-college All-America honors twice. He led Grambling to the 1976 SWAC tournament championship, on the way to player-of-the-year honors.

“Coach Hobdy saw me as a sophomore at Richwood High School and he told me: ‘If I don’t see you anymore, you will be my starting guard two years from now,'” Wright said. “That was overwhelming for me. I didn’t know what he saw. When I became a senior and was being recruited by schools all over the nation, I remembered what Coach Hobdy told me. That’s the reason I came to Grambling.”

Wright then entered the NBA draft, where he was selected in the first round by Washington. A season later, he had earned a world championship with the Bullets. Wright later had a celebrated basketball career overseas, helping Italy’s Banco DiRoma to the European Championship on the way to honors as the best player in Europe in 1983-84.

Once his playing days concluded, Wright then succeeded his mentor Hobdy has Grambling men’s basketball coach. Now a high school administrator, Wright has already been inducted into the SWAC and Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches halls of fame.

He speaks often of the support system that bolstered him through humble beginnings.

“I worked hard, and kept working, and things worked out,” Wright said. “It’s rewarding when you get my age and look back over your career like that. I always dedicate awards like this to my family. They got me here.”

Hobdy, an inaugural inductee into the Grambling Legends Sports Hall of Fame who passed in 1998, also remains an inspiration to Wright. Hobdy is the winningest men’s college basketball coach in Louisiana history, with nearly 600 victories over a 30-year career.

“He would be drilling you, running you like there is no more tomorrows, but afterwards if you had a problem he would switch hats,” Wright said. “Instead of your coach, he became your father — so understanding of the problem, whatever it might have been. There was no way you could think a guy who had just been screaming at the top of his voice could do that, but he did. I will always remember that.”

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