Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Stanford's LDS Basketball Star Is Larger Than Life
San Francisco Examiner 16Mar00 S2
By Mark Fainaru-Wada: Examiner Staff
STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA -- Mark Madsen is larger than life.
The 6-foot-9, 240 lb. power forward with a deep rooted background in
the Mormon faith, wants others to see him as someone who has made
"plenty of mistakes." The problem for Madsen is one of a
media-created myth that he is not like anyone else. Stanford
teammate Casey Jacobesen sums it up by saying, "Let's be honest, the
guy is almost too good to be true."
Longtime friend Alan P. Johnson said, "I think probably all the
comments are quite valid, even though it seems strange that we could
have someone like that walking around." Teammate Ryan Mendez says,
"I think he's by far the most popular athlete ever at Stanford."
Madsen's roots date back to Finland in the 1400's where the
description of his ancestors are laced with references as "the
tallest man in the town." His father's side of the family is
represented by a man who was the captain of the first hand-cart
company that Brigham Young selected to cross the plains from Illinois
to Salt Lake City. His mother's ancestors were coal miners in Wales,
simple poor folks.
Mark's father, Duane, considers himself to be, "The father of a
legend." While mother, Erlyn says, "He really does have the gift of
people. I mean, it's bigger than life. He actually does possess
that magical quality of being able to connect and care about
everybody." Mark returns the compliments with, "You want to do a
story on somebody, do a story on my mom." "My mom is what people
think I am."
Two years ago, as Stanford made its first run to the Final Four in 56
years, Madsen emerged as the savior of every media type from here to
New York. Madsen is now one loss or six victories away from the end
of a college basketball career that has not coincidentally emerged
with Stanford's rise to national prominence.
Recently a local reporter quoted Madsen after a big win as having
said, "Thank God," when he actually said, "Thank goodness." The next
day the paper printed a retraction. When Madsen saw the quote in the
paper, not only did he immediately let his folks know that he had
been misquoted, he did one better and stood before his congregation
and let everybody know that the reporter had made a mistake and that
he never would use the Lord's name in vain.
"From the time he played in high school, and even younger, whoever
has gotten to know him has felt like he was part of their family,
that he was truly part theirs," Duane said. "People who meet him
feel like they're part-owner of Mark Madsen."