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While salaries were a bit different during the 1980s, the top NBA talents will always command the largest salaries. During his prime, few men were more talented than Larry Bird. Thanks to that reality, the Boston Celtics forward took home just over $24 million in game checks; that couldn't erase his childhood memories, though.
Although he eventually grew into an NBA star and multi-millionaire, Bird never forgot what it was like to grow up poor in French Lick, Indiana. In fact, his childhood "motivated" him throughout his entire career.
These days, basketball fans revere Larry Bird as a living basketball legend. At one point, though, he almost left the hardwood for good.
After establishing himself as a big name on the high school scene, Bird headed to the University of Indiana to play his college ball. The on-campus scene in Bloomington, however, didn't resonate with the forward; before playing a single game, he decided to withdraw and return to French Lick.
Back at home and without college basketball to occupy his time, Bird began working as a garbage man. Indiana State University basketball coach Bill Hodges, however, didn't give up on the forward and convinced him to join the Sycamores squad.
Once he suited up for NCAA action, Bird became a legitimate star. While he became a household name thanks to his duel with Magic Johnson in the 1979 NCAA national title game, the forward brought his A-game every night. During his three seasons at Indiana State, he averaged 30.3 points per game and claimed the 1979 National Player of the Year crown.
WATCH: Becoming a star with the Boston Celtics