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Short and Sweet
Melissa Segura
June 30, 2003
You don't need to be Yao Ming to make your mark in the sports world. We caught up with six former athletes who, though small in stature, measured up in the eyes of history
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June 30, 2003

Short And Sweet

You don't need to be Yao Ming to make your mark in the sports world. We caught up with six former athletes who, though small in stature, measured up in the eyes of history

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Sometimes neither can she. "I don't walk around in my leotard wearing my medals," says Retton, who at age 16 won the all-around gold as well as two silvers (in team competition and the vault) and two bronzes (uneven bars and floor exercises) at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. Retton, 35, is still bouncing and tumbling as host of the PBS children's show Mary Lou's Flip Flop Shop. Nine years ago she and her husband, Shannon Kelley, developed the program, which airs in 65 cities and teaches kids to make smart life choices.

For all her fame, though, Retton is clear about her greatest achievements. She watches her girls watch her on video and says, "They're my gold medals now."

AARON PRYOR, 5'6"
Boxer

At 47 Aaron (the Hawk) Pryor was ready for the ring. "Hawk Time! Hawk Time," the crowd chanted. "It was just like going to a championship fight," says the former WBA junior welterweight titlist, "and I was only getting married." On June 5 Pryor wed Frankie Wagner at the boxing hall of fame in Canastota, N.Y.

The cheers were long in coming. The man who had defended his belt eight times from 1980 to '83 battled crack addiction in the late '80s. His $3 million in earnings evaporated, and he wound up on the street and, eventually, in jail. "Then I got saved," says Pryor. He was lying on the floor of a Cincinnati crack den, ulcers bleeding, when someone called 911. After Pryor left the hospital, he went straight to the New Friendship Church. He's now a Baptist deacon.

Pryor also helps guide young fighters, including sons Aaron Jr. and Stephan. Occasionally he sees his virtual image get KO'd on his PlayStation. "They needed a machine to knock me out," he says. Or maybe just a woman. "The Hawk," he admits, "has finally been tamed."

MONTE TOWE, 5'5"
Point Guard

Monte Towe has a thing for ESPN Classic. "They only show the games I played good in," says Towe, a junior on North Carolina State's 1974 national championship team. He watches highlights from that year's ACC title game, an overtime win over Maryland, or the Wolfpack's double OT defeat of UCLA in the NCAA semifinals, or the national-final victory over Marquette, which featured one of his signature alley-oop passes to David Thompson. "When I threw that pass," Towe says, "it looked like it was going out the coliseum."

Towe, 49, can't seem to keep himself out of the arena. In 2001 he became head coach at the University of New Orleans, where he has gone 30-28 in two seasons. "Coaching," he says, "is prolonged adolescence." Each morning at 5:45 he leaves his wife, P.D., to have breakfast with his players, then heads to the office, where he reviews plays and watches game film. Sometimes even his own.

PAT STAPLETON, 5'8"
Defenseman

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