Zeus McClurkin is a testament to not giving up or letting obstacles get in the way of achieving one’s dreams.
He was cut from every basketball team he tried out for from seventh grade through tenth grade, but he kept pushing and finally made his high school team his junior and senior seasons. He played his first couple of years of college ball at a Division II program, but the departure of the head coach left Zeus on the outside looking in. Undeterred, he enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University, and he made the basketball team as a walk-on, beating out 30 other hopefuls in the process. Zeus earned an undergraduate degree in business management at North Carolina A&T and then a master’s degree in marketing and communications from Franklin University, based in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
Zeus is also a Guinness World Records® record-holder. On Nov. 17, 2016, he set the mark for the most basketball slam dunks in one minute, with 16. To give you an idea of just how challenging that was, Zeus could only dunk one ball at a time and was required to run back across the free throw line before each attempt. Zeus also set a new record for the most bounced three-pointers in one minute, with 5.
Zeus is known for his fun personality and crazy trick shots from places like Ohio State and the Mall of America, which have been featured on ESPN. Since joining the Globetrotters, he’s also transcended language barriers with appearances on popular Spanish-language television shows like Univision’s “Republica Deportiva,” and Telemundo’s “Un Nuevo Dia.”
He has accomplished all of this while dealing with exercise-induced asthma, a narrowing of the airways in the lungs that is triggered by strenuous exercise. To this day, Zeus carries an inhaler with him.
Zeus was introduced to basketball by his older brother, Robert, and cites his brother as the most influential person in his athletic career. “I fell in love with basketball because of my brother’s passion for the sport,” explains Zeus. “I wanted to be just like him, and to this day, I still can’t beat him one-on-one.”
An extremely versatile athlete, Zeus was on the swim team growing up and also played football, tennis, baseball and soccer (“The best athletes in the world today are playing soccer,” he says). He also played volleyball and would have loved to have played professional beach volleyball and represent the U.S. in the Olympics.
Zeus has this piece of advice for young athletes: “Be coachable. Be the player that the coach never has to worry about and can depend on when called upon. I have played a lot of minutes over players that were more talented than me, simply because I was coachable and understood what the strategy and philosophy was for each team on which I played.”