Starting Point With Casey Jennings: Lee LeGrande
Grab Winnie the Pooh. It’s time to go.
That’s what Lee LeGrande recalled his mother saying to him when he was three or four years old. He can’t remember exactly. Details blur when you’re a kid moving from one state to the next.
“It was,” LeGrande said on Starting Point with Casey Jennings. And then he paused. “I don’t really remember it at all.”
To the best of his memory, it was a middle of the night mission. His mother walked into his room in Mississippi, told him to grab Winnie – and then they were off, bound for Honolulu, Hawai’i.
It was an adverse start to a new life, and yet it was there, in Hawai’i, where the roots to a wildly successful life began to settle.
“I look back on it, it’s adversity and these trying times in life are your best growing moments and you look back on them,” LeGrande said. “And I’m so stoked that it worked out the way it did because if [my dad] had his game tight, we’d probably be living in Mississippi. I’d probably be on the juice, probably a tight end playing football with no knees.”
Instead of a tight end on the football field in the south, where the sport is near religion, LeGrande took up another sport that is, well, near religion on a different coast. In Hawai’i, LeGrande found volleyball – and he found every possible way to make it work.
He enrolled in the storied Punahou High, alma mater of former President Barack Obama as well as current beach professionals Trevor and Taylor Crabb, Riley and Maddison McKibbin and Brad Lawson, the audio producer for Starting Point.
LeGrande made it work by working in the cafeteria, which at first, as any high school kid would, he nearly loathed.
“I was kind of bummed and embarrassed to work there,” he said. “But once I worked there for like two weeks, and there’d be a long line and me and my buddies would go up to try and get some food. They’d be like, ‘Hey Lee!’ They’d call me to the front of the line. So there were some perks that all come with it.”
Just as there were perks that come with being an adolescent, like a massive growth spurt between his freshman and sophomore years. Yet that growth spurt came with consequences, as LeGrande couldn’t quite keep up with all of his extra inches. The soccer coach tried to put him in goal, but he quickly tired of it, and when he walked into his mom’s office and she wondered why he wasn’t at practice, he shrugged and said he got cut.
“What about volleyball?” she wondered.
And then he got cut from the volleyball team.
But here’s the thing about volleyball in Hawai’i: You don’t really need to make a team. You can just go over to the Outrigger Canoe Club after school and play on the beach, which is exactly what LeGrande did.
Those reps at Outrigger led to LeGrande getting an offer from Pepperdine, where in 1992 he’d win a National Championship and in 1994 he’d graduate with a degree in Liberal Arts and Education.
The next summer, he was on the AVP Tour, and in 2000, LeGrande became the first Outrigger kid to win an AVP when he and Brent Doble won in Delray Beach.
“I’m the first Outrigger Canoe Club member to win an AVP event,” he said. “Just a little fun fact here. Stein [Metzger] has won like 10 times more, but he was just a little late to the party.”
Four times over the course of a 15-year career would LeGrande win an AVP. Now he’s a top real estate agent in Manhattan Beach. He’s a husband, a dad.
“I’m super happy,” he said. “It’s the relationships you always have that define you.”
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