NBA Hall of Famer Karl “The Mailman” Malone claims to have bought himself the “perfect” gift to celebrate his 50th birthday, a live mule, which he plans to ride while hunting and fishing through the forests of his beloved Louisiana and Arkansas.
"Instead of being the athlete and walking everywhere, he got himself a mule," said Kay Malone, his wife. "… I think he’s listening to his body more. He’s preserving himself more. He wants to be able to do things with the grandkids."
But why a mule instead of a horse, you might ask. The answer is simple according to the big man, himself. "Mules won't put their feet where it's a danger to them. Horses will. So don't go out and buy one of those fancy thoroughbreds and find you're on your back and your wife collecting on the big insurance policy."
Malone’s love for both hunting and mules goes back to his childhood. Born July 24, 1963 in Summerfield, LA, Karl Malone was raised on a farm by his single mom Shirley* where he often worked chopping down trees. It was during this time that his “mule riding” grandfather made him a small, leather harness, so he could “spend a day out in the logging world to know what hard work is.” His grandfather also encouraged him to always “give ’em your best every time and you’ll be rewarded,” words he certainly took to heart.
Considered one of the “greatest power forwards” in NBA history. Malone earned his nickname “The Mailman, because he always delivered. He was a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, a 14-time NBA All-Star, and an 11-time member of the All-NBA first team. He is also known for having scored the second most career points, 36,928, in the history of the NBA, and holds the records for most free throws attempted and made.
It is also interesting to note that the animals were actually cited by name in his basketball contract with the Utah Jazz contract, which specified that “he wasn't allowed to shoot firearms from the back of a mule.” He was also quoted by teammates as loving to talk about mules and was known for his "You can't beat the fart out of a dead mule."
*Malone’s father Shedrick Hay had another family with a different woman he married. He committed suicide when Karl was just 14 years old.