Anthony Stephen Fauci was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 24, 1940. In an interview conducted by the National Institutes of Health Historical Office Director, Dr. Victoria Harden, Fauci described his childhood as “typical, very happy, and very active”. He attended Catholic school as a child, playing basketball on the parish team. Sports were important to him as a kid: “My major interest was sports…I lived in a very sports-oriented neighborhood.” He was a gifted young athlete and went on to play for coach Ed Lata at Regis High School in Manhattan, where he captained his team — Fauci informed Molly Roberts of The Washington Post. His teammates described him as a “classic point guard” according to a report by Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal. They go further, calling him an “excellent ball handler, pesky defender” and “tenacious competitor.” Fauci, in describing his work ethic, explained that he “…would sometimes play [four or five hours] of basketball, study for three hours, then get up and start it all over again.”
“You know he was a great basketball player.” – President Donald J. Trump
Given when and where he was born, it makes perfect sense Fauci grew up loving sports. Unique among many of his peers in Brooklyn, Fauci was actually a New York Yankees fan. In his interview with the NIH Director, Fauci listed his childhood heroes as “Joe Di Maggio, Mickey Mantle, and Duke Snyder.” Now almost 80, Dr. Fauci threw out the first pitch at the Nationals vs. Yankees gam
e on July 23rd. He’s also still a fan of basketball, having spoken at length with both Steph Curry, and Mike Krzyzewski in recent months about the Covid-19 pandemic. In his Q&A with Fauci, the Warriors point guard comments on a toy basketball hoop that can be seen sitting behind his guest. When he spoke to Coach K he was asked to put the Coronavirus situation into basketball terms. “Are we winning?” Krzyzewski asked. Fauci had no problem with this question, saying that “right now we have a team that’s a very powerful team” — COVID-19 — “and what we need to do is…play a full-court press…We’ve just got to be all over them”.
Fortunately for the world, Fauci gave up sports in college to pursue his academic interests. He informed the NIH Director that his college course load was demanding and that “due to the nature of the premedical curriculum at Holy Cross, it was…difficult to be very active in sports.” Fauci was talented enough to succeed at a competitive high school, but when it came to college he says he “did not play competitive basketball…since they [College of the Holy Cross] had [a very good team].” We’ll never know what could have been if Dr. Anthony Fauci had pursued sports over academics — plenty of 5’ 7” players have made it in the league — but given the work ethic he has exhibited throughout his life, it’s at the very least intriguing to wonder how far he could have made it in college or the pros.