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King spoke his mind very early on

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Before he was Smoothie King, he was the king of talk.

Talk radio and TV talk shows had yet to dominate the airwaves, yet young Shaun King already was holding court in front of his own demographic: His second-grade classmates at Central Christian School in St. Petersburg.

The 7-year-old King, a bright and thoughtful student, pontificated to his friends on . . . well . . . whatever it was kids in 1984 discussed.

Hey, King said, he couldn't help it. When you're that smart, you can't just keep it to yourself.

"I was real smart," he said. "So I used to finish my work before everybody else did and run my mouth. I was just doing what every other kid would do.

"I had a lot on my mind, and I liked to discuss everything on my mind."

"He had a lot of words in his vocabulary," his mother, Carolyn, said, "and a lot of energy."

Well, maybe too much energy. See, King didn't just talk. He talked. Always. Every day, in class, in school, whenever and wherever he could. That didn't go over well in the strict environs of Central Christian.

"Usually at school, if I remember correctly, he would get a timeout for talking," Carolyn said. "He'd finish his work first and talk. Then he's get in trouble. Then at home he'd be in trouble because he got in trouble at school."

Carolyn remembers a time that year when Shaun got in trouble because he couldn't sit still in class. So father Sam figured that if Shaun liked moving around so much, maybe he should try 20 push-ups.

Nothing worked for long, though. That's just the way King was, his mother said. Before he starred at Gibbs High and Tulane, his personality and intelligence were bubbling to the surface. King was an engaging sort; and he engaged just about everybody he met up with.

"He was very social, and he loved to talk. If you were 1 year old or 100 years old, he'd talk to you," Carolyn said. "He could hold an appropriate conversation with anyone. He found no strangers anywhere."

Don't ask King what exactly he was talking about all those years, though.

"I have no clue," he said. "I've been hit a lot of times in the head since then. My memory is a little shaky."

Q: Shaun, what do you remember most about that year?

A: I had this big Jeri-Curl afro. It was big. Yeah, I used to like that.

* * *

Q: Whom did you admire most back then?

A: My family, my parents. They were always there for you, they provided for you, they taught you. That's how you got everything you needed to get. Man, I can't even remember that far back. I'm losing my mind!

* * *

Q: If you could, what wisdom would you impart to yourself back then?

A: Pick up a golf club. Heh heh, that's a good one . . . but I'm serious. Pick up a golf club.

SUPER BOWL XVIII

Jan. 22, 1984

Tampa

Raiders 38, Redskins 9

MVP: Marcus Allen, Raiders running back (20 carries for a Super Bowl-record 191 yards and two touchdowns, including game-record 74-yard TD run).

IN THE NEWS: May 7-on: The Soviet Union withdraws from the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in retaliation for the U.S.-led boycott of the 1980 Games in Moscow; other bloc nations follow. July: New York congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro becomes the first woman on a major-party ticket when Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale chooses her as his running mate. Nov. 7: Republican Ronald Reagan is re-elected president. Dec. 3: Toxic gas leaks from a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killing 2,000 and injuring 150,000.

BEST PICTURE OSCAR: Terms of Endearment

MUSIC OF THE MOMENT: Born in the U.S.A/Bruce Springsteen

EVERYBODY'S WATCHING: The Cosby Show

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