Playing His Role

Feb. 5, 2009

For most Division I student-athletes, the task of successfully balancing a full-time load of academics and athletics can be a daunting one.  Imagine, then, that you are majoring in life sciences communication, playing for a perennial top-25 basketball team and are married with three young children.  That is the role that University of Wisconsin senior forward Marcus Landry plays every day of his collegiate life in Madison, Wis.

Landry, who hails from nearby Milwaukee, Wis., has been a model of consistency for the Badgers over the past few seasons.  The 2008 Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player had career averages of 7.9 points per game and 4.1 rebounds per contest entering his senior campaign, and had started 42 consecutive games.  His success on the basketball court has grown from an early age, as he had the benefit of having two siblings who also were interested in the game.  His older brother Carl, who competed at Purdue and now plays for the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets, and his younger sister, Shenita, a senior at Temple, helped him shape his game once he began to get serious around middle school.

“It’s cool having two siblings that play basketball, especially with me being in the middle,” noted the 6’7” forward.  “Growing up, I always had someone I could beat and always had someone that I couldn’t beat. The one-on-one games with my brother Carl sometimes ended with me getting really mad and storming into the house, but for the most part they usually ended with me being mad. One-on-one I probably only beat him once or twice. We did beat him here at Wisconsin once, though.”

That competitive attitude helped lead Landry to Madison following a successful stint at Milwaukee’s Vincent High School, where he led his team to two consecutive state semifinal appearances, including the championship game during his senior season.  His first-team all-state selection as a senior helped attract the likes of Marquette, Iowa and UConn during the recruiting process, but Landry eventually settled on Wisconsin, which he is quite happy with some four years later.

“It means a lot to be able to represent the University of Wisconsin,” commented the senior.  “It’s a great school and I don’t take that for granted. Playing in the Big Ten is important, too, because it has such a great reputation. It means a lot to me to be a part of the conference and be at a school that is so well respected.”

Although basketball has opened a lot of doors for Landry during his time at Wisconsin, he is a grounded individual who is well aware of the order of words in the term student-athlete.  This past October, Landry was named the recipient of one of the National Consortium for Academics and Sports’ (NCAS) Academic Momentum Awards for success achieved both in the classroom and on the court.  For someone who has already won a Big Ten Conference Championship, a degree from the University of Wisconsin would mean a great deal to Landry.

“With everything I’ve been through, it’s going to mean the world to me having that degree,” said Landry.  “I never thought that I’d be able to graduate from college; I didn’t even think I was going to go to college until my senior year of high school. Thinking about having a degree from a school like this leaves me almost speechless. My brother has a degree, my sister is going to get hers and I’ll get mine. I think we are the first ones in our family to graduate, and I’m proud of that.”

As mentioned earlier, Landry also plays the role of father in between all of his time spent in the classroom and with basketball-related activities.  He and his wife, Efueko Osagie-Landry, who played basketball at Marquette, are the proud parents of three children: Marcus, Moriah and Makaylah.  Landry, who says that his greatest motivation for keeping such a busy schedule is to be able to provide for his family, has the ultimate responsibility of being a role model not only for those fans that look up to him as a Badger, but also to his three young children.  As someone with a proud heritage, Landry relishes the opportunity.

“I take great pride in being an African-American student-athlete and a role model that people look up to,” he remarked.  “I’m trying to be an example for kids, including my own children. People might say basketball is an easy way out, but it’s a way to get it done. Although the NBA may be a dream, not everyone plays basketball just to go to the next level. For me it’s more important to get a degree first and then see where basketball can take me.”

Aware of the fact that he will have to one day engage in life-after-basketball, Landry hopes to go back to culinary school in order to own and operate a restaurant.  For the very near future, though, Badger fans will be more than content with Landry and his teammates serving up a second-consecutive Big Ten Championship.