Daniel Gafford is Coby White’s fellow rookie on the Bulls. His locker sits next to White’s at the United Center.
And even Gafford couldn’t believe it.
“Your name is what?” Gafford said, incredulously.
“Alec Jacoby White,” White said. “It’s what my Mom wanted to name me.”
Then why, pray tell, does the basketball world know him as Coby?
“My Aunt called me Coby so everybody started calling me Coby,” White said. “Growing up, I was used to everyone saying Coby. So that’s the name I wanted to go by. It was kind of my choice.”
White said his mother liked the names Alec and Jacoby because they were distinguished and different. Only his older sister, Tia, calls him by those names.
“She doesn’t want to be like everybody else. She wants to be different. That’s my big sister,” White said. “But I let her do whatever she wants. I don’t care.”
But White’s mother, Bonita, does. To the point that she’d go to his school open houses before the school year even began and do her son’s dirty work for him.
“Before she did that, it happened a couple times on the first day of school,” White said. “The teachers would say Alec. And everybody is looking around the room like, ‘Who is that?’ I’d be all embarrassed and say, ‘Yo, I go by Coby.’ And the teachers would be sorry. So that’s when my Mom would start that.
“She’d go to the open houses and she’d already get it right. She would say, ‘You got him listed as Alec. But change that. He goes by Coby.’ From then on, whenever I got to school, (the teachers) always said, ‘Coby White.’”
Tuesday night, as he set a Bulls franchise record with seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the United Center crowd started chanting, “Coby! Coby!” The name is as identifiable as his signature hairstyle.
And it booms through an arena better than “Alec! Alec!” might.
“Growing up, people would call me Alec and I wouldn’t answer,” White said.
Even Gafford, sitting nearby, smiled at that one.
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