Thurl Bailey

Last updated
Thurl Bailey
Thurl Bailey.jpg
Bailey, circa 1988
Personal information
Born (1961-04-07) April 7, 1961 (age 62)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight247 lb (112 kg)
Career information
High school Bladensburg
(Bladensburg, Maryland)
College NC State (1979–1983)
NBA draft 1983: 1st round, 7th overall pick
Selected by the Utah Jazz
Playing career1983–1999
Position Power forward / center
Career history
19831991 Utah Jazz
19911994 Minnesota Timberwolves
1994–1995 Panionios
1995–1997 Polti Cantù
1997–1998 Olimpia Stefanel Milano
1999 Utah Jazz
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points 11,834 (12.8 ppg)
Rebounds 4,718 (5.1 rpg)
Blocks 1,086 (1.2 bpg)
Stats   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg at
Stats   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg at

Thurl Lee Bailey (born April 7, 1961) is an American former professional basketball player whose National Basketball Association (NBA) career spanned from 1983 to 1999 with the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Bailey has been a broadcast analyst for the Utah Jazz and the University of Utah— in addition to work as an inspirational speaker, singer, songwriter, and film actor. Bailey garnered the nickname "Big T" during his basketball career.


Basketball career

Bailey attended North Carolina State University and was a leader in the Wolfpack's miracle run to the 1983 NCAA Championship. That year, under head coach Jim Valvano, he led the Wolfpack in both scoring and rebounding. The Utah Jazz selected him as the 7th pick of the 1983 NBA draft. Jazz management reported that he was selected for the quality of his character, as well as the quality of his game. This was the beginning of 16 years of playing professional basketball, with 12 of those years in the NBA. Bailey’s career-high points game came on March 14, 1988, when he scored 41 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in a 116-115 win over the Denver Nuggets. [1]

Bailey was a starter with the Jazz for most of his first two seasons, but with the drafting of Karl Malone, Jazz coach Frank Layden made Bailey one of the first options off the bench. As a result, Bailey had his two finest NBA seasons in 1987–88 (19.6 ppg, played in all 82 games and started 10 times) and 1988–89 (19.5 ppg, 82 games, 3 starts). Both seasons saw him finish second in Sixth Man of the Year voting. During Bailey’s Utah tenure, he played in 665 games, missing only 4 games he was eligible to play in. [2]

On November 25, 1991, he was traded by the Jazz along with a 1992 second-round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Tyrone Corbin. Bailey holds the unusual distinction of playing 84 combined regular-season games during the 1991–92 season for both teams. He played for almost three seasons in Minnesota until 1994 when he left the NBA and played in the Greek League (playing for Panionios) for the 1994–95 season. [3] From 1995 to 1998 he played in the Italian League for Polti Cantù in 1995–97 and Stefanel Milano in 1997–98, [3] before returning to the Jazz as a free agent on January 21, 1999. He retired after the end of the 1998–99 season.

Career after the NBA

Bailey is a public speaker, a broadcast analyst for the Utah Jazz and the University of Utah, an actor, and a singer/songwriter. [4] Bailey's albums include Faith In Your Heart (1998), The Gift of Christmas (2001), and I'm Not the Same (2002).

Bailey is chairman of Big T Productions, Fertile Earth (which has a patent pending on a fertilizer that works through irrigation sprinkler systems), and FourLeaf Films. [5]

He works with various charities, including Make-A-Wish, D.A.R.E., and the Happy Factory. [5]

Coaching career

Bailey continues to coach in the Salt Lake City area using the private coaching service, CoachUp. [6]


Bailey gave the opening prayer at the 2008 Republican National Convention. [7] [8]

Personal life

Bailey was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in a high-crime neighborhood of Capitol Heights, Maryland bordering D.C. [5]

Bailey is the father of six children. He has a daughter, Chonell, with his high school sweetheart and two sons, Thurl, Jr., and TeVaun from his first marriage. Bailey and his wife, Sindi (née Southwick), live in Highland, Utah with their three children BreElle, Brendan, and Bryson. His son Brendan played basketball at Marquette.


Bailey was raised Baptist. [9] While playing basketball in Italy, Bailey decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was baptized by the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on December 17, 1997. [7]

Career statistics

  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage 3P%  3-point field goal percentage FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game APG  Assists per game SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game PPG Points per game Bold Career high
 * Led the league


Source [10]

Regular season

1983–84 Utah 815424.8.512.7525.
1984–85 Utah 806831.0.4901.000.8426.
1985–86 Utah 821328.8.448.000.8306.
1986–87 Utah 81226.6.447.000.8055.
1987–88 Utah 821034.2.492.333.8266.
1988–89 Utah 82*333.9.483.400.8255.
1989–90 Utah 82*3331.5.481.000.7795.
1990–91 Utah 82*2230.3.458.000.8085.
1991–92 Utah 13*025.2.386.000.8006.
Minnesota 71*1825.0.448.000.7955.
1992–93 Minnesota 70318.2.455.8383.
1993–94 Minnesota 79316.4.510.7992.
1998–99 Utah 43012.6.446.000.7352.


1984 Utah 1130.9.515.000.8105.
1985 Utah 101037.5.408.8189.
1986 Utah 4436.8.364.000.7278.
1987 Utah 5030.2.4761.0006.
1988 Utah 11040.8.488.000.8385.
1989 Utah 3240.7.353.8008.
1990 Utah 5538.0.489.7926.
1991 Utah 9025.3.359.8803.
1999 Utah 11010.5.515.7501.


1994Thurl: Forward with New PowerHimselfDocumentary
2001 The Luck of the Irish Mr. Holloway Disney Channel Original Movie
2002 The Singles Ward A TravelerMovie
2005 David and Goliath Goliath of Gath Movie
2006 Church Ball Moses MahoneyMovie
2007 Heber Holiday MutumboMovie
2013Running with the PackHimselfDocumentary
30 for 30 HimselfSurvive and Advance

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  1. "Thurl Bailey Career High 41 Versus Nuggets". Statmuse. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  2. "IT'S T FOR TY AS JAZZ DEAL THURL TO MINNESOTA". Deseret News. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  3. 1 2 Thurl Bailey bio Archived 2009-04-19 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Luis Fernando Llosa (2003-11-03). "Thurl Bailey, Forward". SI Vault. Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  5. 1 2 3 Robinson, Doug (22 February 2003). "Thurl Bailey's wonderful life". Deseret News . Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  7. 1 2 Playing Field Promotions. "Thurl Bailey Biography" . Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  8. Josh Loftin (2008-09-01). "Thurl Bailey opens GOP convention with prayer". Deseret News. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
  9. "Former NBA Star Thurl Bailey Shares Incredible Conversion Story". LDS Living . 17 May 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  10. "Thurl Bailey NBA stats". Basketball Reference . Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 4 December 2023.