NBA’s Larry Bird Loved Adopted Kids More Than Biological Child Who Hoped to be Part of His Life

Larry Bird is an NBA star that many looked up to for his legacy in the basketball world. However, not many people know that he has a daughter that he has neglected for many years. 

Before Larry Bird became the NBA superstar that he is, in 1975, he was a student at Indiana State University who married his high school sweetheart, Janet Condra. Unfortunately, their union ended in divorce a year later. 

After divorcing on October 31, 1976, Condra gave birth to their daughter Corrie on August 14, 1977. Initially, the athlete denied that he was the father and rejected Condra’s request for child support. 

Larry Bird at the game between the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings on December 27, 1990 at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California (left), Larry Bird, his wife Dinah, and son Connor at the Larry Bird Night at the Boston Garden on February 4, 1993 (right) | Source: Getty Images

Although Bird initially claimed he wasn’t Corrie’s father, a DNA test proved he was. In his rookie season with the Boston Celtics in 1979, he agreed to set up an account where Condra could withdraw monthly child support until his daughter turned 18. 

Corrie tried her best to connect with her father through the years, even studying at Indiana State University like him. They resemble one another physically, having the same nose and sandy blonde hair. 

Larry Bird at a Boston Celtics game against the Houston Rockets circra 1981 at The Summit in Houston, Texas | Source: Getty Images

Born on December 7, 1956, Bird was a legend in Indiana State before joining the Celtics as the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft. Over his 13-year NBA career, he led his team to three NBA titles and bagged three MVP awards. 

In 1990, he hit a milestone in the NBA by reaching a total of 20,000 career points. He was in the all-star team 12 times and was an all-star MVP once.

After retiring in 1992, he became a head coach and executive for the Indiana Pacers. He also joined the Olympics in 1992, the first time the US sent professional athletes to the games. 

There, the American men’s basketball team was labeled the “Dream Team,” including Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and other NBA greats. Bird and his Olympic teammates are still regarded as some of the best basketball players of all time. 

HIS MANY BASKETBALL ACCOLADES

Thanks to his achievements in the league and basketball in general, Bird was named one of the NBA’s Top 50 players in 1996. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame two years later.

A year later, he was ranked at No. 30 of ESPN “Sports Century’s” Top 50 athletes of the 20th century, with five basketball players ranked higher than him. He was also named NBA Executive of the Year in the 2011-2012 season for being team president of the Indiana Pacers. 

Larry Bird at the game between the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings on December 27, 1990 at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California | Source: Getty Images

Bird didn’t always have it easy, especially growing up. His mother, Georgia, worked as a waitress, working two jobs to support Larry and his five siblings. Meanwhile, his father Joe skipped from one job to another because of his alcohol problems.

Through it all, he had someone by his side, his high school sweetheart, Janet Condra. Unfortunately, they soon realized that marriage was not for them as they divorced a year into their wedlock. 

LOSING TOUCH WITH HIS DAUGHTER

They had a daughter named Corrie in hopes of reconciliation, but it just did not work out. Bird supported their daughter financially until she was 18 years old. Apart from their physical resemblances and child support, the father and daughter had minimal contact.

For the first two decades of her life, Corrie wanted to get to know her father more than the financial support he provided. However, Bird never allowed her to have this relationship with him. 

Through the years, Corrie would send her father letters, photos, and even school report cards. Looking back at this time, she said:

“I would send him letters, and my mom would send him my school pictures and report cards. We would send them certified mail to make sure he received them, but he just didn’t respond.”

In 1989, Bird married Dinah Mattingly. While they did not have any biological children, they decided to grow their family by adopting two beloved children named Connor and Mariah. 

Through the years, Mattingly made an effort for Corrie to feel welcomed in their family. She would strike up conversations with Corrie and invite her to watch Pacers games. 

Larry Bird, his wife Dinah, and son Connor at the Larry Bird Night at the Boston Garden on February 4, 1993 | Source: Getty Images

Even when Bird had his own family, Corrie still tried to reach out. When he began coaching the Indiana Pacers, she watched one of his games and talked to his new wife.

Corrie shared that her dad saw her holding his then five-year-old daughter, Mariah, but all he did was smile awkwardly from a distance. He and Corrie did not have a conversation during that time. 

Although Bird was an absent father all her life, she separated him as a basketball player. Her bedroom walls were covered with Celtics memorabilia, posters of her dad, and newspaper clippings. 

When she played basketball in high school, she chose jersey number 33, claiming that it makes her feel closer to her father. Corrie even admitted to placing one of his old high school jerseys in her gym bag as her good luck charm.

Larry Bird playing with the Boston Celtics against the Houston Rockets circa 1981 | Source: Getty Images

Bird declined to comment about his daughter through the years, but it was once reported that his wife, Mattingly, left a pair of tickets for Corrie and a friend to watch a Pacers game. After the game, Bird finally spoke with Corrie. Describing the moment, she said:

“I was really happy to go to the game. Dad seemed interested in what I had to say. He walked me to my car, and he hugged me.”

Jason Williams, Larry Bird, and Detlef Schrempf at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai, India on October 4, 2019 | Source: Getty Images

Despite finally acknowledging his daughter after years, she was not invited to his retirement night in 1993. Corrie did not have a ticket to the festivities and was not invited. 

At the time, Bird’s ex-wife admitted that their daughter would likely re-watch “Bird Night” again and again on tape. 

Although Corrie has a lifetime’s worth of pain from the rollercoaster relationship she shares with her father, she once told Oprah Winfrey that she was not angry or bitter at Bird for neglecting her. 

When Winfrey asked Corrie why she couldn’t move on, she shared that she still hopes that her father will become a part of her life one day. Meanwhile, Winfrey said it’d be difficult to enforce a law for absent fathers to have compassion for their children.

Dinah Bird, former professional basketball player Larry Bird, and Mariah Bird enter the “Late Show With David Letterman” taping at Ed Sullivan Theater on April 11, 2012 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

SPEAKING ABOUT HIS DAUGHTER

Admittedly, Bird’s absence in Corrie’s life had a lot to do with his differences with his ex-wife. In his autobiography, he shared that he thought about his daughter all the time, but there was nothing he could do to relive the years. 

Despite that, he credits his ex-wife for bringing up his daughter in the best way possible. He commended Corrie’s athleticism, saying he was proud of her. He ended the write-up by saying he loves Corrie and will always be there for her.

Dinah Mattingly and Larry Bird pose with the ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award in the press room during the 2019 NBA Awards presented by Kia on TNT at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

HIS SON’S RUN-IN WITH THE LAW

Meanwhile, in 2013, another one of Bird’s children made headlines. His son Connor was arrested for trying to run over his ex-girlfriend with a car following an argument in their university.

The Indiana University police department arrested the then-21-year-old following the incident. According to police reports, Connor and his ex-girlfriend began arguing, and he ended up throwing his phone at the woman.

Kevin Pritchard, Larry Bird, and Donnie Walsh watch a game between the Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves on October 15, 2019 in Indiana | Source: Getty Images

The fight escalated in a parking lot, and he allegedly tried to run her over twice with his car. Bird was charged with battery with injury, intimidation with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief, and possession of marijuana. 

Leave a Comment