Maryland Terrapins fans will always remember Juan Dixon as the player that helped deliver them a National Championship in 2002.
They may also remember his backstory of tragedy shared so many times by the media during Maryland's NCAA Tournament run: Both Dixon's mother and father had died of complications from AIDS before he turned 17. It was his older brother Phil who played the parental role, cheering from the stands at every game.
That was reality for Dixon and nearly every person watching him except for a Baltimore man named Bruce Flanigan. That's because Flanigan knew instantly at seeing Dixon's face that the Maryland star was his son.
Now 38, Dixon shared the story of discovering his biological father in the upcoming episode of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, airing March 21 at 10:00 p.m.
The reunion only happened a year ago. That it happened at all is thanks to Flanigan's mother, who finally couldn't stop herself from boasting about her grandson. Word of her claim spread around the Baltimore community quickly until it reached Dixon.
He insisted on arranging a meeting immediately and knew at first sight that Flanigan was his father.
Flanigan said hadn't wanted to interfere with or appear to take credit for the success of a son he hadn't raised. But when confronted by Dixon, he was forced to re-evaluate the decision he made years ago to keep quiet.
Dixon and his father now have a close relationship, but it has come at the expense of another core bond. Dixon's older brother Phil no longer speaks to him.
But the Maryland star, now head coach of the women's basketball team at the University of the District of Columbia, has a father and grandmother cheering for him in the stands. He just hopes to add his brother to the mix someday soon.
Hear Dixon and Flanigan tell the story in their own words when the episode airs on March 21 at 10:00 p.m. on HBO.
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