One Shining Moment ... Like so many once-celebrated NCAA tournament heroes before and after him, the sharpshooting leader of the Florida hoops renaissance has had his off-court moments too—some more lustrous than others
The familiar brush cut, maintained weekly during his heyday a decade ago as the biggest little man on a campus of 50,000, is gone now, the hair grown out and combed back. The man who as an 18-year-old senior at Mariner High in Cape Coral, Fla., in 1998 averaged 41.5 points per game—thanks to a sweet jumper about which an opponent once said, "He gets up 24 inches on every shot, even in the fourth quarter"—is 31 now. He groans each time he rises from a chair, the result of the cavalcade of injuries and, he estimates, the nine or 10 surgeries that were the consequences of his fearless style. There was the torn rotator cuff with which he continued to play while helping the fifth-seeded Florida Gators to their first national championship game, in 2000 (they lost to Michigan State), and even worse, the herniated disk he suffered the next season. He returned to the court just 20 days after microdisectomy surgery and averaged 14.7 points a game over a 9--1 stretch to lift the Gators to their second straight SEC regular-season title, and for that he still pays the price. "Stupid move," he says. "I'm miserable." He swallows 3,200 milligrams of ibuprofen per day to dull the pain, and the prescription anticonvulsant gabapentin on top of that.
But as Teddy Dupay sits in the living room of his house in a suburb south of Salt Lake City, where he takes in the mountain views alone except for when his seven-year-old daughter, Hannah, comes to visit from Idaho every few weeks, his blue eyes still shine bright with focus. It was with that focus, back in his basketball days, that the 5' 10" Dupay willed himself into becoming Florida coach Billy Donovan's first, and perhaps signature, recruit: the player who made people believe that Gators could play hoops, and not just football. "From 1996 to 2000 there can't have been another person on this planet who took more jump shots," he says. "Millions. Millions of makes."
For the past year Dupay has focused on a rather different pursuit: the building of something called S'Boalnation, a company he started in September 2009, after noticing that one of the most frequently asked questions posted on Barack Obama's change.gov website concerned the then president-elect's plans regarding the prohibition of cannabis.
August 1, 2010
Dupay, who insists that he has not smoked marijuana "in years," speaks passionately about the usefulness of what he calls a "magical substance," whose recreational use could be regulated, and taxed, by the government and that could also be used as a medicine, a food, an alternative energy source—even a building material. "If the grid were shut down, there's only one thing that could allow us to maintain the lifestyle we have, and that would be the hemp plant," he says with the conviction of a preacher.
Less clear is his explanation of what S'Boalnation actually does. Members—of which he says there were once 1,500 to 1,800—pay $94.20 to join, and then $24.20 per month, and receive commissions for "bringing other like-minded individuals" to the cause. "They get a merchandising license, they get their own website," Dupay explains, or tries to. It all seems a little murky, and the S'Boalnation's website's many attempts to clarify things—before vanishing in July, it featured not only a Purpose Statement but also a Mission Statement, a Vision Plan and a Vision Statement ("Our vision is to help anyone and everyone achieve everything they desire and deserve")—don't help.
And yet Dupay is willing to let all that go to return to the game he knows best. He intends to get into coaching, even though, he says, "I know I'm going to make about 1/25 of what I make now."
"I think I have a lot of gifts to give in basketball," he says. "But that means working with parents and kids, and at the end of the day, [cannabis] is illegal—even though all the uses of the actual plant are relatively unknown to most people. I might completely remove myself from [S'Boalnation], give it away." Dupay is confident that his basketball IQ is second to none, as is his knowledge of how to persevere through what he calls "tough situations." For Dupay there have been two central ones: his involvement in a gambling investigation that forced him to sit out what would have been his senior season at Florida in 2001--02 (he was named as a codefendant but never charged), and in 2008 being charged with three first-degree felonies for the rape, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault of a former girlfriend. (He ended up pleading guilty to aggravated assault and spent 30 days on work release in a Utah jail.)
Dupay denies that he ever gambled, on Florida basketball games or anything else. And of the assault charges he points to the fact that his accuser backed off and declined to cooperate with prosecutors. "My life is not defined by a couple bad things," he insists. Still, he says, "You get a label. It is what it is. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Dupay says that he maintains close relationships with many of his former Florida teammates, including NBA players Udonis Haslem and Matt Bonner. Even though Donovan, who won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and '07, declined to comment on his first recruit, Dupay says that he regularly speaks with him, recently about his own coaching aspirations. "He said, 'I really just think you've always had the disposition and a lot of the skills necessary to be successful at any of the levels," Dupay reports. " 'You'll work your way up quickly. It's not an unclimbable mountain.' "
"I've done a lot in my first 30 years, I can do a lot in the next 30," says Dupay. Through his living room window, the snow-capped Oquirrh Mountains loom.
"My life is not defined by a couple bad things," insists Dupay. "You get a label. It is what it is."