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Chicago guard helps Brazil to gold-medal game

Chicago guard helps Brazil to gold-medal game

Posted by PanamericanWorld on July 25, 2015

Larry Taylor is hard to miss on the Pan American Games basketball court with bright yellow shoes and an electric smile. But it is his background that stands out.

A native of Chicago, the 34-year-old Taylor wears the green and yellow of Brazil these days. His 11 points off the bench Friday, which include a key late steal that translated into a layup, helped moved the Brazilians to a 68-62 semifinal win Friday over the Dominican Republican.

Taylor will face either Canada or his native U.S. in Saturday's gold-medal game.

The six-foot-one point guard went to South Suburban College, a junior college near Chicago, for two years before transferring to Missouri Western State College.

"It never crossed my mind I'd be playing for the Brazilian national team," he said. "As a kid growing up, I wanted to be part of the Dream Team, the U.S.A., watching those guys.

"But I took a different a path and I'm happy with my decision. I'm enjoying everything that's come along with international basketball."

Basketball took him to Mexico, Venezuela and then in 2008 to Brazil. Three years later, some of the Brazilian national team players pointed out he could apply for Brazilian citizenship with four years residence and suggested he try out for the national team.

"I said 'Hey, why not.' I was already there three years at the time and loving Brazil a lot."

He started the process and was able to represent his adopted country in 2012 at the London Olympics, where Brazil finished fifth.

"That was something I can't even explain," he said of experiencing the Games.

He got to see stars like Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American swimmer Michael Phelps in action. And he marvelled at the emotion and enthusiasm of the athletes at the opening ceremony.

"I learned a lot. I learned a lot of countries I didn't even know existed." he said with a laugh. "It was a great experience."

Taylor was living in Baaru, about a three-hour drive from Sao Paulo, but has just switched teams and will play for Mogi das Cruzes, just 45 minutes outside Brazil's biggest city.

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