NASCAR Texas 2014: Dale Earnhardt Jr. basketball star? Ah, not quite

Rick Kern

Why did Dale Earnhardt Jr. play basketball as a kid? It allowed him to get away from life at military school.

Dale Earnhardt is a self-described diehard sports fan. Yet as far as being a participant, well, he is much better at driving than basketball, a sport he played as a kid.

The hoops career of NASCAR's most popular driver consisted of playing on the Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military School junior varsity squad, a picture which Earnhardt shared on Twitter Thursday. (He's the short one on the far left.)

Earnhardt signed up for basketball because it offered a break from the monotony of life at a military school.

"I sat on the bench a lot being the smallest guy," Earnhardt said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. "I didn't have any skill. I only played because you got to leave campus for the road games. Being able to leave even for a day in military school was an amazing vacation just to be able to leave for a few hours because you would go after the game and would get pizza or whatever. You just didn't have those kinds of luxuries being on campus so that was pretty neat."

Exactly how many points did Earnhardt score? Two. And it was by happenstance.

"I threw it up with my eyes closed," Earnhardt said. "The only way I knew it went in is because (my sister) and everybody, the 10 or 12 people that were there, were screaming when it went in.  So I knew it went in, but I never saw it.  Some guy was jumping at me and I just closed my eyes and threw it up."

It was the first time Earnhardt played organized sports, and it was an experience he quite enjoyed. And with the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex hosting both NASCAR and the NCAA men's Final Four this weekend, he thought it was appropriate to post the photo.

Although a fan of the already eliminated North Carolina, Earnhardt is rooting for Florida to win the championship.

"I had plans to go to the game, but those plans changed a little bit so I'm not going to go," Earnhardt said. "I have Florida winning my bracket so I'm kind of pulling for them I suppose."

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