Earl Boykins did not let his height stop him from making it to the NBA. At 5-foot-5, he was the second shortest player in NBA history behind Muggsy Bogues. During his NBA career, Boykins came off the bench and provided quality minutes.
After his playing career was over, he got into coaching at the high school level. Now he’s working with college student-athletes to make sure they are heading down the right path.
He was short, but Earl Boykins could play some basketball
Boykins is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and was the star player on his high school basketball team. He only had two Division I offers from Eastern Michigan and Iowa. When Iowa withdraw their scholarship, Boykins decided to attend EMU. He attended EMU for four years, and the school won the MAC tournament in 1996 and 1998. Despite being the shortest player on the court, Boykins was one of the best out there. During his junior and senior season, he earned All-Mid-American Conference first-team honors.
Boykins played in the NCAA Tournament his senior year and was second in scoring averaging 26.8 points per game. He currently holds the record for total assists at EMU with 624. In 2011 his No. 11 jersey was retired by the school. After his college career, he pursued a career playing in the NBA. He went undrafted, but five teams signed to short-term contracts before signing a five-year contract with the Denver Nuggets before the 2003-04 season.
On November 11, 2004, Boykins scored 32 points in a win over the Detroit Pistons. That made him the shortest player in NBA history to score 30 or more points during a game. After spending three full seasons and a portion of the fourth season with the Nuggets, Boykins was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in January of 2007.
Earl Boykins playing overseas and returning to the NBA
After starting the 2007-08 season with the Bucks, he finished the season playing with the Charlotte Bobcats. Throughout his first stint in the NBA, Boykins had six seasons where he averaged double-digit points. That’s pretty impressive given his size. But the thing that stood out about Boykins was that he didn’t play like he was the shortest player on the court. There was no fear in his eyes, and he always played with confidence.
At the end of the 2007-08 season, Boykins was an unrestricted free agent, and he decided to play in Europe instead of signing with a team. He signed a one-year, $3.5 million net income contract with Virtus Bologna of the Italian A League. The contract made Boykins the highest-paid basketball player in the Italian League. His team won the EuroChallenge Cup in 2009. After a year of playing overseas, Boykins returned to the NBA.
Boykins signed with the Washington Wizards in November of 2009. He finished his NBA career playing for the Bucks and the Houston Rockets. Boykins provided that spark coming off the bench and always played with a lot of energy. The guard finished his career averaging 8.9 points and 3.2 assists.
So what is Earl Boykins doing now?
In 2014, Boykins was named the head coach of a high school basketball team in Colorado. He also ran the Boykins Basketball Academy in Denver and founded a non-profit organization called Boykin Kids.
Most recently, he was hired as the Director of Student-Athlete Development at the University of Arkansas. In that role, he serves as a mentor to the student-athletes, oversees the players’ academic progress, and helps with community service projects for the program. Boykins is a perfect example that size doesn’t matter in sports. He was able to play in the NBA for an extended period, and he didn’t let his height get in the way of anything.