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Kuhn - The Voice of the Raptors
By Nathan Eisen
"Not only do I get to go to every home game, not only do they give me microphone to scream into, but they pay me to do it too."
Thirty-two year old Herbie Kuhn knows how to speak out. It's a good thing to because Herbie has been the in-house announcer for every Toronto Raptors home game since 1995. Although remarkable, it didn't come easy; in 1992 he was simply announcing Double A men's and women's games to no more than a handful of spectators. Two years later, the twenty-five year old was responsible for announcing during the games of thirteen teams in the 1994 World Championship of Basketball in Canada's Toronto and Hamilton. Just one short year later he earned his place as the in-house Voice of the Toronto Raptors; in just five short years Herbie had graduated from announcing in front of crowd numbers that he could count on his finger tips to some of the largest audiences in the NBA.
Herbie's journey through his teenage years was a difficult one.
"Twelve, thirteen, fourteen weren't so bad," commented Herbie, "But in grade nine I began to hang out with the wrong friends."
Herbie's life quickly went down hill. He started to drink to excess and began using drugs more to be popular with his friends than anything else.
"I was more addicted to trying to impress my friends than the drugs themselves," said Herbie. "It was an ego boaster."
Herbie continued to give into peer pressure throughout his teenager years. He'd come home high or drunk, and it effected more than just himself.
"I drove my parents crazy," he said.
Then in 1995, when he became the in-house announcer for the Toronto Raptors, Herbie realized it was time to make some changes in his life.
"[I was] more so making a personal decision," remarked Herbie, "I was a minor celebrity."
It hit Herbie that he was now a role model for a lot of people, and he knew he would have to change his life style.
"I couldn't be signing autographs and then going out and getting drunk the same night," said Herbie Kuhn. He made the decision to stop drinking and using drugs.
Herbie also stopped smoking shortly after, something he had been doing since grade eleven. In July 1996 Herbie met an attractive young Christian woman named Stephanie and after a time they began to date. Considering the fact that she was allergic to nicotine, Herbie quickly realized that smoking would mean less time with Stephanie. It didn't take him long to quit.
"She took a big risk on me," Herbie told me. "I wasn't a Christian when we began dating."
Herbie's church and faith life was also something of a roller coaster ride. When he was twenty-seven, Herbie and his mother had become continually frustrated in the church that he had been attending all his life, and they decided to leave it. Later, Herbie began to attend a Grant African Methodist Episcopal Church at the suggestion of a friend.
As a result Herbie began learning about what a real relationship with Jesus Christ meant. On November 3, 1996, Herbie accepted Christ as his personal savior during an alter call.
Herbie has also married Stephanie, a relationship that continues to be a learning experience. "[I've learned] that a husband needs to love his wife just as Christ loves the church." For Herbie Kuhn, Jesus is number one in his life, and second is his wife.
"If a lot more people would model their relationships like that, their would be a lot fewer divorces." Herbie encourages teens to remember that it should be 'Marriage until death', not 'Marriage until we get sick of each other'.
Announcing for NBA Basketball is not without a few good laughs. The "Herbie Wanna Be" contest has been a hit during the past four basketball seasons. Contestants have their heads shaved like Herbie's and the crowd picks who they think looks the most like Herbie from the finalists. In the last couple seasons Herbie's wife has selected the finalists.
"It creates some good laughs," says Herbie Kuhn.
But along with the laughter their are some embarrassing moments too. When Herbie accidentally announced a foul for Tracy McGrady, who had recently left the team, instead of Tracy Murry, the twenty thousand spectators almost booed him of the court. Their was still some obvious hard feelings about Tracy McGrady quitting the team among the fans.
On top of announcing for the Raptors and several college and university teams when his schedule permits, Herbie Kuhn speaks to many different age groups. It's not uncommon to find Herbie speaking at youth group outreaches, basketball tournaments, and school sports banquets.
Herbie has also been featured on a dozen television networks, including the New VT, CBC's National Sports, and Brainwash. Several radio broadcasts, The Fan 590 and Mix 99.9, have put him on the air.
As for the future, Herbie
Kuhn has two big goals: he wants the Raptors to win the NBA Championship;
second, and most important, he wants to reach as many people as possible
and share the love of Jesus.