Larry Bird grew up in both West Baden and the adjacent town French Lick, which earned him the nickname "the Hick from French Lick" in his later basketball career. He was raised in nearby French Lick, where his mother worked two jobs to support Larry and his five siblings. Bird has said that being poor as a child still motivates him to this day.
When Larry Bird attended high school, he started for French Lick/West Baden's high school team, Springs Valley High School, where he left as the school's all-time scoring leader. He quit both football and baseball to focus on the sport he loved, basketball.
Bird received a scholarship to play college basketball for the Indiana University Hoosiers in 1974. After less than a month on campus he dropped out of school, finding the adjustment between his small hometown and the large student population of Bloomington to be overwhelming. He returned to French Lick, enrolling at Northwood Institute (now Northwood University) in nearby West Baden, and working municipal jobs for a year before enrolling at Indiana State University in Terre Haute in 1975.
On May 29, 1980 Larry Bird was named NBA Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists, and leading the Celtics to a then-record 32-game improvement (29-53 to 61-21). Also is named to the All-Rookie Team and first-team All-NBA; finishes third in MVP voting.