Photo courtesy University of Michigan
From Glory Days featuring Maceo Baston
By: Michael Holzman
Many people may not see a connection between professional basketball and cupcakes but the story of 2x EuroLeague Champion, Maceo Baston, creates one. Baston grew up in the Dallas, Texas area and like most Texans, his first love was football. He started playing the game at the age of eight and continued to play for most of his childhood. By seventh grade he was very tall for his age, six foot three, and began playing basketball, despite having no skills or experience. His size would make the other teams nervous but he did not see the court until the final game of the season where he scored only one point. After talking his Dad into building a hoop for him that following summer, Maceo realized he could get better. In eighth grade he immediately made an impact, scoring 16 points in the season opener as well as getting the attention of college scouts. He did so well that season that he was invited to play in an all-star game in Helsinki, Finland.
Despite growing up in Texas, Maceo was a big fan of the University of Michigan. Maceo Baston loved their football team and the school colors. He also watched the Fab Five play while in high school. When they came to recruit him, Baston was excited to commit to the Wolverines. Although Michigan did not enjoy the same amount of success they had during the Fab Five era, Maceo would appear in the NCAA Tournament twice and win the National Invitational Tournament, although Michigan had to later vacate that season due to a booster scandal. He felt that the pressure and the expectations he had from playing for such a big school prepared him for the pressure he would face as a professional.
In 1998, Baston was drafted in the second round by the Chicago Bulls but didn’t play a single game for them because the NBA was in a lockout that year, so he decided to keep playing and join the Quad City Thunder in the CBA where he would stay for the next two years. “I never could escape the Midwest,” Maceo gests. After the CBA, the rest of his pro career was mainly spent in Europe, with a few brief stints with the Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, and Detroit Pistons. His greatest success as a pro would come with the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team. While playing for them, Tel Aviv made the EuroLeague Final Four for three years in a row and won the championship twice. “It was beyond my wildest dreams,” Baston says about winning a championship at that level. His passion for the game matched the passion of the fans and Maceo would become a nationwide celebrity in Israel.
By 2011 the opportunities for Baston were dwindling and he had to begin to plan his life after pro sports. “It is like parting with one of your limbs,” is how Maceo describes retiring from professional sports. What prepared him for this major transition came while playing with the Toronto Raptors and being told in a team meeting that out of the 15 players in the room, ten of them would be broke when they retired. This information really stuck with Maceo and motivated him to enroll in the NBA’s entrepreneurs program, in which he and 10 to 15 other NBA players were given a crash course in business. Baston viewed that course as a great foundation and was taken under the wing of other Detroit area basketball players turned businessmen like Dave Bing, Earle Higgins, and Antoine Joubert.
His first project was a cupcake business called “Taste Love” in of Royal Oak, Michigan. That business would be recruited to be on the Food Channel show “Cupcake Wars,” which Maceo then won. After winning “Cupcake Wars,” he was invited on the ABC food talk show, “The Chew” which allowed him to promote his business on the big stage even more. He has also partnered with Joubert in the construction business and sells real estate as well. “I’m just enjoying the fruits of my success, giving back and enjoying life,” Maceo shared. He gives back by mentoring both kids in grade school as well as college athletes by helping give them confidence and direction in their athletic careers and their lives.
When it comes to transitions in life, Maceo Baston knows that change can be tough and while you should reflect on your “glory days,” you should avoid getting hung up on them. You should also take care of yourself and your body, give back to people and find yourself.
You can catch Maceo Baston’s full TV interview this Sunday, April 15th on From Glory Days, on TV20 Detroit at 6:00 a.m. Set your alarms or DVRs to hear Maceo’s story directly from this former EuroLeague and Cupcake Wars Champion himself.
Check out other athletes featured on the From Glory Days page.
Michael Holzman is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn with honors, with a BA in Communications. He also has a communications and broadcasting degree from Specs Howard School of Media Arts. A native of the Detroit area, Michael is now an associate producer for the TV show, “From Glory Days” and also works for Yellow Flag Productions, primarily reporting and gathering video for their popular show, “State Champs Sports Network.”