Michael Jordan Helps Chicago Bulls Fan Get His $1 Million After Once In A Lifetime Basketball Shot; Proves That He’s Definitely One Of The Good Guys (Video)

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In 1993, Don Calhoun sank a nearly impossible three-quarter court shot at a Chicago Bulls game that won him $1 million. It was a life-changing moment not just for Don, but for his family across two generations.

Don was a 23-year-old office supply salesman, randomly picked out of the crowd for a promotional contest. The odds of making that shot were less than 1%. But Don had an eerie sense of calm and certainty wash over him as he prepared to take it.

The shot swished through perfectly. The crowd erupted. The Bulls players themselves mobbed Don, pulling him into their huddle in sheer disbelief. Michael Jordan yelled “Great shot, kid!” and slapped Don on the back. It was a moment of pure euphoria.

John Paxson and Scott Williams jumped up and down like children. Phil Jackson beamed with an incredulous grin. Even the referees came over to excitedly congratulate Don. He was the team’s 13th man in that moment, engulfed in the heart of the legendary Bulls squad.

Years of Hardship and Tragedy

Don had faced years of setbacks trying unsuccessfully to walk onto college basketball teams after high school. But he and his brother Clarence shared a deep passion for the game. They were tough, persistent guards who dazzled in playground games with their athleticism and defense, despite never making their school teams.

Their unconventional style didn’t always translate to organized ball. But Clarence was the first in their family to even attend college, walking onto the team at a junior college. He later transferred to DePaul University in hopes of major D1 playing time.

But tragically, Clarence died in a car accident at just 20 years old when driving home from school. The loss crushed Don, leaving him to grieve and initially fall short of graduating on time. But he eventually earned his diploma and tried continuing their shared dream of college hoops.

Though Don ultimately walked away from basketball, Clarence remained his inspiration. Don named his first born son Clarence Calhoun II in his brother’s memory. He worked tirelessly in sales to provide for his young family.

So when Don stunned the Bulls arena with the miraculous three-quarter court shot, he felt Clarence’s presence guiding him. This was his long-awaited hoops glory after years in obscurity. He had told his 3-year-old son Clarence to watch this game, feeling fate may intercede.

The Money Comes Through

But soon uncertainty set in – would Don actually get the $1 million prize? The insurance company balked because Don had briefly played some college ball years earlier. Don clung anxiously to the game ball, his lone souvenir from that life-changing night.

Remarkably, Michael Jordan himself intervened, confirming to Don: “We made them give it to you. We were upset that they were trying to not pay you.” Thanks in part to Jordan’s advocacy, Don indeed started receiving $50,000 annually for 20 years.

That money lifted Don’s family to financial stability. Though not enough to get “rich,” the steady income helped Don support his four kids and open doors for them that had previously seemed out of reach. He used it to encourage his oldest son Clarence Jr. to be the first in their family to graduate college, aiming to complete the mission he had started with his brother.

Clarence Overcomes the Odds

Against steep odds, Clarence persevered through early academic struggles. A Ukrainian professor named Dr. Valentyn Siniak improbably took Clarence under his wing. Siniak believed in Clarence so deeply that he already called him “Dr. Clarence Calhoun” in encouraging emails.

Clarence slowly gained confidence and skills by tutoring fellow students as Dr. Siniak suggested. He found reservoirs of ability and intelligence he didn’t know he had. His grades steadily improved as campus security had to usher him out of the science building long after midnight, with Clarence sleeping just a few hours before starting intense study all over again.

Tragically, Dr. Siniak was killed in a motorcycle accident before seeing Clarence graduate. But Siniak’s inspiration stuck with Clarence through those late nights and relentless study sessions on his way to a biology degree.

When Clarence showed his dad the diploma, they laughed and cried. Don could hardly believe his son had achieved what no one in their family had done before. It opened up Clarence’s next dream – to follow in Dr. Siniak’s footsteps and become a physician himself.

Again, the odds felt stacked against Clarence. But he worked persistently through medical school and residency for eight more grueling years, passing exams and certifications along the way. He took jobs at places like Jiffy Lube to get by as he inched closer to his dream.

Finally, one day in 2021, Clarence received an envelope containing the official certification that he had become Dr. Clarence Calhoun II. He immediately went to share the news with his father.

Full Circle Moment

When Clarence announced the news, Don gave him a proud push-pass straight to the chest with the cherished game ball from that fateful night in 1993. Don also handed over the shoes he had worn, now autographed by himself instead of Jordan.

The Calhouns embraced, reflecting on their family’s incredible journey. Don’s miracle shot had rippled out in uplifting ways across two generations. They went from barely scraping by to achieving education and career dreams that once seemed unfathomable.

As Clarence later said, their story shows that “life is too difficult, but you can figure out how you can do it.” The $1 million shot gave them hope and opportunity to profoundly change their family’s trajectory.

Now Dr. Clarence Calhoun is paying that gift forward. He works as a hospitalist, providing direct care to patients. He speaks to youth groups in his community about his improbable path, seeking to motivate the next generation.

The Calhouns still have the game ball on display as a reminder of what can happen when you never stop working and believing. Though the money from Don’s shot is long gone, its impact continues to inspire.


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