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Person 2 Person: Mark Eaton

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Mark Eaton (Photo: Courtesy Mark Eaton)

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(KUTV) Mark Eaton is a former Utah Jazz player and NBA all-star, motivational speaker, and author.

This month, he launched his first book, "The Four Commitments of a Winning Team."

Eaton has been a motivational speaker for the past 10 years or so.

"When you get done speaking, people say, 'What else can I do?' or 'How else can I improve?' and so that was kind of the impetus behind the book, was to give people a few more things to think about," Eaton said.

Eaton has a story that many people can relate to.

At 21 years old, he was working as an auto mechanic. He is 7 feet 4 inches tall, and people would always tell him he should be playing basketball.

"That used to really irritate me because as a young man, I didn't go around telling everybody else what they should be doing with their life, and why were they in my business?" Eaton said.

One day Tom Lubin, a junior college basketball coach, came into the tire shop where Eaton worked.

"He said, 'I can show you some things about basketball you haven't seen before,'" Eaton recalled.

It took some convincing, but eventually Eaton agreed to head to the gym with him after work to learn from Lubin.

"After about four months of doing that, I said, 'All right, I'll try this thing for one year and give junior college a chance.'" Eaton said. "After one year, I had enough success where I decided I better get serious about this."

Eaton ended up playing at UCLA and for the Utah Jazz.

Throughout his life, Eaton has always gotten attention for his stature. So you can imagine there were times where he wanted to hide and feel small.

"I think a good portion of my life I wanted to do that," he said. "I wanted to be able to just go somewhere to be quiet and not be bothered. And eventually, I had to get to this place and say, 'You know, this is who I am.'"

Eaton has had several other paths after his basketball career, but being an author is a little out of his comfort zone.

"Being vulnerable on paper and telling people what it's really like, and what I really learned, I think that's probably the biggest challenge," he said. "It's also the part that usually connects us the best. But to open yourself up a little bit and show some of your flaws to a degree, or show some of the failures you had, that was a little more challenging."

Another important part of Eaton's life has been giving back. He started the Standing Tall for Youth Foundation for at-risk kids after he retired from basketball.

"The missing link that I saw when I was retiring from basketball was that there were kids out there who didn't have the chance to go to a sports camp or a basketball camp," he said.

He ran the foundation for 14 years.

"I had coaches and people that came alongside me from my junior college coach, to Frank Layden, to Jerry Sloan, and everybody in between who were willing to take me aside and give me a chance to figure out what I needed to do out there on the basketball court, guide me a little bit," Eaton said. "I feel like that's my job later on, is to provide that opportunity for other people."

To get a copy of Mark Eaton's book, go to this website.

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