By Kent Larsen
Lebron Changes on Road from Puerto Rico to BYU All-star
PROVO, UTAH -- With BYU's men's volleyball team marking a 12-1 record and
ranked #1 in the US, Hector Lebron seems destined to be on another NCAA
championship team. But since his previous appearance on BYU's champion 1999
team, Lebron has changed at lot.
A native of Puerto Rico, Lebron was raised by a single mother after his
father left when he was just five years old. He hasn't seen him since. He
then found volleyball, and at age 13 joined a club team, becoming one of
Puerto Rico's best young players. As a member of the Puerto Rican team, he
traveled to junior tournaments throughout the US, and after graduating from
high school, looked around the US for a place to play and get a University
Improbably, the Puerto Rican hero Ossie Antionetti, one of the islands best
volleyball players ever, had been to BYU, and when asked, his mother told
Lebron to go to BYU to play. Lebron had never heard of the school. But after
trying out, he squeaked onto the team, earning a partial scholarship and a
lukewarm offer from BYU because the coaches considered him a marginal player.
Struggling through his first two years at BYU, Lebron missed the lifestyle
in Puerto Rico, and took out his struggles on BYU's honor code. "For a
non-church guy from Puerto Rico, BYU was too straight, too tight," he says.
"I broke the rules, I partied, I went to clubs to drink. I wrote a letter to
[coach] Carl [McGown], telling him I wanted to transfer."
But McGown saw something in Lebron, and convinced him to stay. As a junior,
everything started to click, and Lebaron took over the role of setter. That
year BYU won the national championship, and Lebaron was named an
All-American. "That was one of the most amazing things I'd ever
experienced," he says. "Winning like that. It gives me chills just thinking
about it. I got better as a player, the team was great, my whole outlook
changed. I partied less, and worked more."
But McGown took him down a notch the next year, redshirting Lebaron because
he believed the team last year wouldn't be as good. After first fighting the
move, Lebaron decided to use the time to improve his game -- and himself. He
joined the LDS Church, and his attitude changed even more. And he improved
his game even more.
In retrospect, Lebaron says that he's happy with the way things worked out.
"I've changed my ways here. When I first came, I wanted to party and be a
superstar. Now, I want to help my team, I want us to win one more
championship. It feels great. It's amazing how far my life has come."
Cougar Setter Takes Strange Route to Top
Salt Lake Tribune 5Mar01 S2
By Gordon Monson