(WCIA) — Cory Bradford didn’t hesitate to end his playing career, when it meant he was becoming a dad.
“I’m anxious, excited, and terrified at the same time. It’s my first child, it’s her first child, and it came at a perfect time with me having a kid at the end of my career,” says Bradford. “I’ve always wanted to be a dad.”
The former Illini was a couple days away from playing with ‘The House of Paign’, the Illinois alumni team, in The Basketball Tournament. But he decided to stay home with his wife Rina, who is seven months pregnant.
“It was in the back of my mind, and we thought everything was going to be cool, but a lot can happen between traveling there, traveling back, and things like that,” says Bradford. “It was something that we really didn’t want to tip-toe in, and I would rather be safe than sorry.”
At 41-years-old he’s retiring from basketball to settle down in Orlando, FL. Bradford spent 18 years playing professional basketball in more than a dozen different countries.
“My goal was to play until I was 40, and I was able to squeeze an extra year in,” says Bradford. “Can I still play a few more years? Of course. I’m in great shape, I was really preparing myself for The Basketball Tournament.”
Bradford was the oldest alum on the ‘House of Paign’ roster. Ranked 6th on Illinois’ all-time career scoring list, he led the Illini to back-to-back Big Ten Championships, and a Sweet 16 appearance in the 2002 NCAA tournament. He still holds the school record for career 3-pointers made.
“I was actually really looking forward to doing something where I started my career wearing the orange and blue, and finishing my career in the orange and blue, but I didn’t hesitate at all when I told my wife I couldn’t do it,” says Bradford. “‘I’d be damned if I left you here by yourself’. It’s our first child so I really wanted to experience it and be here for it.”
Cory and Rina will welcome a baby boy to the world in August. Cory Jr. could be the next Bradford to wear the Orange and Blue–as a class of 2038 recruit.