Fox, Rick 1969–
Rick Fox 1969–
Basketball player, actor
A versatile talent with the ability to respond on the court and in front of the camera, Rick Fox is making a name for himself as one to watch. Wearing number 17 for the Los Angeles Lakers, Fox is known as a good guy in the NBA, but this handsome, 6’7“, 242-pound powerhouse has the heart of a lion. His determination is evident in his court performance. He’s appeared in 56 NBA playoff games, and he’s developing a promising acting career.
Fox was born Ulrich Alexander Fox on July 24, 1969 in Toronto, Canada, and moved to the Bahamas with his parents at the age of two. He probably got his athletic spirit from his mother who represented Canada as a high jumper in the 1964 Olympics. Fox went to high school in Warsaw, Indiana before setting his sights on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he became part of UNC’s history books as a stellar basketball player.
While he was a Tarheel at UNC, Fox never missed one game and tied a school record for playing in the most games—140 during his four-year career. He also left his mark on UNC by becoming the all-time leader in steals with 197. In 1991 Fox helped lead the Tarheels to the NCAA Final Four and graduated with a degree in radio, television and motion pictures. That same year, the Boston Celtics drafted Fox as a forward in the first round; he was the 24th pick, overall.
Fox entered the NBA with modest beginnings. He averaged eight points and 2.7 rebounds in his first season with the Celtics, and was named to the 1991-1992 NBA All-Rookie Second Team. With Larry Bird injured for 45 games of his final NBA year, Fox had the opportunity to fill in for the veteran player. He played in 81 games, and ironically, Fox became the first Celtics rookie to start on opening night since Bird in 1979.
By the 1993-94 season, Fox doubled his playing minutes and scored a career-high 33 points against the Milwaukee Bucks. Fox’s increasing numbers indicated that he was settling in with his new team, but by the 1994-95 season, he watched pieces of the house he’d begun to build crumble. He was put on reserve after Dominique Wilkins joined the Celtics and was further handicapped by injuries that significantly cut his playing time. Toward the end of the season, he underwent
At a Glance…
Born Ulrich Alexander Fox on July 24, 1969 in Toronto, Canada; married Vanessa L. Williams in 1999; children: Kyle (his previous relationship), Sasha (with Williams); stepchildren: Melanie, Julian, and Devin. Education: graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1991 with a degree in Radio, Television and Motion Pictures.
Career: NBA basketball player; drafted by the Boston Celtics, 1991; became the Celtics first rookie to start on opening night since Larry Bird in 1979; named captain of the Boston Celtics, 1996; signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1997; actor; film credits are Blue Chips, 1994; Eddie, 1996; He Got Game, 1998; The Collectors, 1999, The Four Faces of God, 1999; appeared in a recurring role on Oz (HBO).
Awards: Named the ail-time leader in steals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1991; named to the 1991-92 NBA All-Rookie Second Team; played on the Canadian team at the World Championship of Basketball, 1994; earned a championship ring in the 2000 NBA Finals championship.
Address: Home —Chappaqua, NY; Office —Los Angeles Lakers, The Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90015
surgery to repair bone spurs in his ankles. Another factor contributed to his troubled season—in 1994 Fox was identified as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
ADD is a condition characterized by hyperactivity and short attention span that is often associated with children. Dr. Edward Hallowell, who has treated Fox for the condition, told Sports Illustrated that six to eight million adults have ADD, and more than half of them are unaware that they have it. Since his diagnosis, Fox has used mental exercises to improve his ability to focus. After being treated for his ADD, Fox was quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying, “I see things in a whole new light.”
Fox picked up the pieces and burst back onto the hardwood in the following season. He started 81 games in the 1995-96 season and missed only one. In 15 of those games, Fox scored at least 20 points. His numbers continued to soar during his tenure with the Celtics, and in the 1996-97 season, he became Boston’s team captain. That season, Fox set a franchise record for the team with 167 steals—one more than Larry Bird’s 166 steals in the 1985-86 season. As Boston’s third leading scorer, Fox increased his career-high to 34 points, and scored double digits in 64 of his 76 games. Despite his exceptional performance, Fox was one of nine Celtics whose rights were renounced in order for the team to clear salary cap room and sign Travis Knight as a free agent.
A bidding war began for Fox after his release in 1997, and ultimately, the Los Angeles Lakers would win, but not because they named the highest price. In fact, the Cleveland Cavaliers offered Fox a higher salary than the Lakers, but because Fox had a true love for acting and had begun to test the waters in film, he turned down Cleveland’s offer to be near Hollywood.
In his first year with the Lakers, Fox made his presence known in the sunshine state with season highs of 31 points and 10 rebounds. In the 1998-99 season, his playing time and scoring average dropped, but he was still a valuable team player. In a game against the Charlotte Hornets, he scored 20 points in just 24 minutes. In 1999 eight years after joining the league, Fox scored his 6,000th career point in a defeat over the Denver Nuggets. His ambition was evident throughout the season, and he played in all six games of the Finals, averaging 6.7 points per game in 17.3 minutes per game. By the end of the season, he joined his teammates to bask in the glory of a victory, when the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers and arose as the champions of the 2000 NBA Finals.
While Fox is an accredited star to the LA Lakers and the NBA, he is gaining more recognition when he’s out of uniform. As many professional athletes are crossing over into other entertainment genres, Fox is among them, but he seemed to shine a bit brighter. “He was the only one who made me say, ‘He can really act,’ “Tom Fontana, executive producer of HBO’s Oz, told Sports Illustrated after auditioning five NBA players for Fox’s role.
In Oz, Fox played Jackson Vahue, an NBA star who was serving 12 years for attempted rape and assault. This HBO break was the first cable opportunity for Fox and knocked at his door between several film appearances. In 1994 Fox appeared in Blue Chips with Lakers teammate Shaquille O’Neil and other NBA names to depict the story of a corrupted collegiate team whose members are offered money and gifts by a desperate coach. In 1996 Fox played basketball player Terry Hastings in Eddie, a story of a Manhattan limousine driver turned NBA coach. Fox made a carneo appearance in Spike Lee’s 1998 film He Got Game, the story of a college basketball player with NBA dreams. In 1999 Fox starred in an independent film titled The Collectors, and helped underwrite and produce his own short film, The Four Faces of God, a story about a drug dealer who looks for repentance after killing two drug addicts.
While Fox is a credible actor, it’s difficult to deny his stunning good looks. However, it was an hindrance when he auditioned for the role of a death-row inmate in The Green Mile. As Fox told The Wall Street Journal, he was rejected because “they told me I was too pretty.”
Fox often looks for parallels in his crafts. While filming Eddie, he learned to increase his level of cooperation with his costars. “If you can bring greatness out of them, then you can get it out of yourself,” he was quoted as saying in Sports Illustrated. Fox transferred this notion to his basketball career and used it to improve his game.
When Fox is off the court and away from the cameras, he spends time with his family. In 1999 Fox married internationally know entertainer Vanessa L. Williams at a private ceremony in a New York Roman Catholic church. Williams, who was the first black woman to be crowned Miss America in 1983, is an accomplished singer and actress. Her accolades include two NAACP Image Awards, and an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe Award for her performance of “Colors of the Wind” from the Pocohontas soundtrack. Williams has also been nominated for nine Grammy Awards. In 2000 Fox’s and Williams’ love blossomed with the birth of their first child, Sasha Gabriella Fox. Sasha entered the world as the youngest of four siblings. Williams has three children, Melanie, Julian, and Devin, from her marriage to her former manager Ramon Hervey, and Fox has one son, Kyle, from a previous relationship with his college sweetheart.
While it is likely that Fox will be remembered as a basketball player, he does not want the sport to be his claim to fame. In fact, despite his accomplishments in basketball, Fox was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying that his goal “is to someday be forgotten as a basketball player.” Whether Fox will decide to pursue acting full-time or another venue, one thing is clear—it seems unlikely that his life will be void of sports. Fox enjoys golfing, watching ESPN Sports Center and football, and he wants to open a sports bar after his NBA career.
Jet, October 18, 1999, p. 54.
Sports Illustrated, March 4, 1996, p. 79; September 8, 1997. p. 21.
Additional information was obtained on-line at http://www.nba.com/playerfile/bio/rick_fox.html,
—Shellie M. Saunders
Fox, Rick 1969–
FOX, Rick 1969–
Original name, Ulrich Alexander Fox; born July 24, 1969, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; married Vanessa L. Williams (an actress, producer, and singer), September 26, 1999 (marriage ended); children: (with Kari Hillsman) Kyle; (with Williams) Sasha Gabriella. Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, degree in radio, television, and film, 1991.
Agent—Jack Gilardi, International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211; William Morris Agency, 151 El Camino Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Publicist—Staci Wolfe, Polaris Public Relations, 8135 West Fourth St., Second Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90048.
Actor and producer. Appeared in advertisements. Professional basketball player with the Boston Celtics, 1991–97, and the Los Angeles Lakers, c. 1997–2004.
Member of Texas Western team, Blue Chips, Paramount, 1994.
Terry Hastings, Eddie, Buena Vista, 1996.
Pianist, A Simple Wish (also known as The Fairy Godmother), Universal, 1997.
Chick Deagan, He Got Game, Buena Vista, 1998.
Ray, The Collectors, New City Releasing, 1999.
Clyde "Sweetfeet" Livingston, Holes, Buena Vista, 2003.
Antonio, Mini's First Time, Trigger Street Productions, 2005.
Film Executive Producer:
Four Faces of God (short film), 1999.
Television Appearances; Series:
Jackson Vayhue, Oz, HBO, 1997–2003.
Eric Renard, a recurring role, Missing (also known as 1–800–Missing), Lifetime, 2003.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Scholfield, Resurrection, HBO, 1999.
Television Appearances; Specials:
The Fourth Annual Celebrity Weddings: In Style, ABC, 2000.
Soul Train Christmas Starfest, syndicated, 2000.
Himself, Planet of the Apes: Rule the Planet, Fox, 2001.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Himself, "Vice Guy," Head over Heels, UPN, 1997.
Guest, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 1999, 2001.
Himself, "Sports Day," Max Steel, The WB, 2000.
Himself, "A Question of Character," Arli$$, HBO, 2001.
Himself, "You Are Your Priorities," Arli$$, HBO, 2001.
Guest, Primetime Glick, Comedy Central, 2002.
Peter Samson, "Even," Street Time, Showtime, 2003.
Voices of Flash Williams and Smooth Daley, "Crime Wave/Odd Ball," The Fairly OddParents (animated), Nickelodeon, 2003.
Guest, "Phil Jackson," ESPN Sports Century, ESPN, 2004.
Guest, On–Air with Ryan Seacrest, syndicated, 2004.
Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 27, Gale, 2001.
Jet, October 18, 1999, p. 54; December 18, 2000, p. 46.
Sports Illustrated, March 4, 1996, p. 79; September 8, 1997, pp. 21–22; July 27, 2001, p. 64.