At 7-foot-6, there aren't too many people Philadelphia 76ers center Shawn Bradley looks up to.
But his 5-foot-3-inch wife is one of them.Bradley, the stilt-legged, multi-million dollar rookie hobbling through his first professional basketball season, credits his bride, the former Annette Evertson, with keeping his spirits up.
"I would not even want to think what things would be like without her. Things would be . . . awful," said Bradley, 21. "I have told her, `Annette, I doubt I could handle this without you.' "
Annette Bradley, 25, guards Bradley off court the way Patrick Ewing does on - but with an eye toward clearing his path, not blocking it.
She waits for him like a schoolgirl after games in the corridor outside the stadium locker room, flashing him a smile and snuggling into his ribs. Her words are all encouragement and love.
"Give yourself time," she tells him. "You are a great ballplayer."
Sitting in the stands before the start of a game, she does not hesitate to tell fans who might boo Bradley that the big guy is her husband and that she would prefer to hear them yell "Shoot."
Bradley was in the audience when his future bride, a nanny, was speaking at a Philadelphia Mormon church about her missionary experience in South Florida.
"It was love at first sight," Bradley said.
A Mormon and a native of Utah, Bradley delayed entering the NBA to volunteer for two years of missionary service in Australia.
After a two-month relationship, they married in September.
"I knew Annette is who I wanted," Bradley said, "and I could not settle for it being less than forever."
Her response to his proposal: "What took you so long?"
"What has happened between Shawn and I just leaves me speechless," she said. "I love him so deeply that what I do for him just comes naturally."
No one expected Bradley to be sensational his first season. But fans want big things from big people, and thus far Bradley has come up short.
He stands just 28 inches under the basket, and with his arm extended can drum his fingers on the backboard. But he has averaged just 8.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game - not the numbers the Sixers expected when they signed him to an eight-year, $44 million contract.
The Bradleys should be able to afford as big a family as they'd like. But that seems to be one thing the two don't agree on.
Shawn would like 15 - three basketball teams.
Said Annette: "I would settle for seven."