|No. 84 – Tennessee Moonshiners|
|Species||Water Deer ( Cervidae )|
|Listed height||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)|
|Listed weight||298 lb (135 kg)|
|FBA draft||2018 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th overall|
|Selected by the Plymouth Taproots|
|Pro playing career||2018–present|
|Career highlights and awards|
|2023 Salary||$14 million|
|2024 Salary||$15 million|
|(OOC) Usage||Ask me before any use|
Located within fifteen miles from the sprawling city of San Bernadino in Southern California, the city of Yucaipa was the setting for Michael's childhood until his high school graduation in 2013. He lived in a small single-wide trailer within a mobile home community, sharing the home with his parents. His father was a Huntsville Mayors fan since the team was in St. Paul, and became responsible for giving Michael's first experience with basketball as he would watch old VHS tapes with him showing Huntsville games when their star Halley Summers was on the court dazzling his fans and opponents alike. Michael's first sports attire was an autographed '23' numbered Halley Summers jersey, and he still has that jersey today as his 'good luck charm', always folded in his duffel bag whenever he traveled for games.
Michael had the good fortune to live adjacent to an outdoor basketball court in the mobile home community, and he along with his friends often mimic the plays and moves they saw on televised Thrust games. Eventually when Michael was in 5th grade, he joined Yucaipa's Youth Basketball program where he learned the basketball fundamentals from dedicated coaches. It became apparent that he was a quick learner, adjusting to the game strategies and dominated the youth games with his shooting and agility. He often found himself involved in big plays, and became such a deadly shooter that one opposing youth coach remarked: ""Whenever he throws the ball up for a shot, I was already imagining the score going up by two or three points against us.""
However even from a young age, Michael was rarely picked for basketball games outside of grade school-level gym class and youth basketball. Being a water deer, his long tusks gave him the appearance of a predator and yet the rest of his body was that of a deer, a prey species. He faced bullying from his larger pred peers in school, and looks of apprehensive fear and even scorn from his prey peers. Even in high school, not only would he face such bigotry from his classmates, but also especially from opposing fans during high school basketball road games. It came to a climax one night when he was 16, when he grabbed a nail file in his parents' bathroom and attempted to saw off his saber-tusks. He managed to cut and grind halfway through his left tusk when the pain overtook him and he screamed, garnering the attention of his parents who rushed into the bathroom and took the nail file from his bloodied paws. It took several surgeries by dentists to repair the damage, and his parents forced him to pull out of the basketball team in his sophomore year to focus more on counseling. While he never purposely mutilated his tusks again, it still remained to be seen on how successful the counseling sessions were while the bigotry he faced continued in his life.
In his high school junior year, he returned to his starting spot as a Power Forward and led the Yucaipa High School Thunder to the top of their regional league, and finally reached the CIF Division-2 Finals against Ayala High School. He scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading his team in both categories for that game, but ultimately lost the game by 4 points. Despite his success and popularity as a basketball player, none of the big-name universities pursued him (his father said it was due to discrimination but there were no evidence to back his claims). Finally he accepted an athletic scholarship to attend Pinetop College, a Northern California school with a Div-II athletic program.
He spent his years playing college basketball at PTC quietly and tried to make the best out of a struggling situation. Coaches murmured that he was a top-tier talent toiling in a school often neglected by the media spotlight, and he couldn't use his talent to full potential due to lack of outside visibility in comparison to the big-name FCAA schools. As the starting Power Forward for Pinetop, he led the team with an average of 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds a game in his junior year and Pinetop reached the Div-II FCAA tournament at the end of their season.
He reacted to the social world around him in a silent but negative way, boiling from years of bullying, fear and mocking from both predator and prey peers. Although he was 100% focused on the game and practice, he rarely socialized with his teammates outside of the court, and even his apartment neighbors claimed that he would react to their greetings with cold indifference or outright ignoring them. His routine during 'non-game days' often consisted of exercising, studying on school courses, watching taped basketball games to prepare for the next game, undergo physical muscle toning and training, and playing outdoor basketball shots by himself. He's often the first person to arrive at team meetings and court practices.
He follows a strict lifestyle of no alcohol consumption, no drugs, no 'junk food' that would harm his body, and refrains even from sex. Some say he has no physical attraction toward anyone. Coupled with his introverted nature, he's not considered a party-goer and not even very expressive in celebrations. To him, basketball is not just a sport, it is where he's valued as important in the eyes of others. He's a player fully focused on the game and on himself... his teammates are important to him only when it matters.
Michael River gives the impression that he lives and breathes basketball. Basketball is his escape from the stress of outside society, and whoever drafts him will be guaranteed a player that will focus 100% on the game. He is an agile wall on the post, willing to use his body as a shield and as a weapon. However he will need a lot of work on marketing, and while he can be a great follower, his ability to become a leader on the court is a question mark for him due to his silence and lack of willingness to handle the media and even complimenting teammates.