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Former Mr. Indiana Basketball Leads Popular Team of Pacer Game Ushers

Writer  /  Matt Keating

Larry Humes, an usher at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, is a popular presence at Indiana Pacer games. Fans love to chat with him. He’s well liked by his co-workers. Many Pacers players, Pacemates, vendors, and Pacers’ front-office personnel often stop to shake his hand, admire his rings, or listen to him tell a story. And Humes loves every minute of it.

The Madison High School basketball legend, named Indiana’s Mr. Basketball in 1962 after taking Madison High School to the state Final Four, knows how to work a crowd. He is one of a fleet of popular ushers who work Pacers games.

“To me, being an usher is not work at all,” Humes said before a recent game against the Charlotte Hornets. “I love people, and I love watching the families and friends come in to have a great time. I’ve been working here as an usher for the last six years, and it’s been constant source of enjoyment for me.”

When Humes was a player at Madison High School, he had 95 wins and one loss in regular-season games. He later went on to play for the University of Evansville, where his team won NCAA College Division national championships in 1964 and 1965. He was also voted All-American. In 1991, he was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

“After college, I went on to get drafted by The Chicago Bulls, but I was the last player cut,” Humes said. “I later signed with the Indiana Pacers, but I was cut before the season began. I was hurt at first, but I wound up being all right with it later. I started teaching and coaching. I jumped right into it and have loved doing both.”

He earned a master’s degree in counseling from Butler University.

“I coached at Howe High School and Shortridge High School in Indianapolis, and at the University of Indianapolis, and back at my old college, the University of Evansville,” Humes said. “After that, I also coached at Crispus Attucks High School. It was a great pleasure. I have coached for 42 years.”

Humes added that his love for basketball and interacting with people in a positive way has never wavered.

“Watching basketball is about as fun as it gets,” he stated. “I also like helping people here get to their seats, and help have a good time.

I’m always glad to see the other ushers doing the same thing, and I like catching up with them. Some of them have been here for a long time.”

Peggy Surbey is one of them. She has been an usher since 1997.

“The two main things I love about this job are the people and the events,” Surbey said. “I have been a long-time Pacers fan, and it’s great being able to go to the games for free. I like welcoming people and bring a positive part of their experience. It puts a smile on my face. I like discussing the games and the players. It’s a great place to be.”

Lorris Brown, one of the ushers’ co-supervisors, said he has been an usher for 30 years.

“I’ve been able to meet such a wide range of people,” Brown stated. “I worked at Market Square Arena, and it was a great place to gather and really get to know the players and fans. It was a real family atmosphere. It’s the same here.”

Dave Slipher, who worked as a teacher for 38 years, has worked as an usher since the 1960s.

“I remember the night Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard was named as head coach of the Pacers in the late ‘60s,” Slipher noted. “I have loved watching all the great coaches and players come and go through the years.”

He says he likes to watch Humes talk to kids about basketball.

“He really is an inspiration,” Slipher said.

Humes tells kids to stay in school and never use lame excuses with their teachers.

“I tell them to work hard and listen to their teachers,” Humes said. “I also love to tell them that it’s not how you start something important in life, it’s how you finish.”

About Matt Keating

Matt Keating is an instructional assistant and tutor at Amy Beverland Elementary and a freelance writer. He previously worked for The Indianapolis Star, NUVO and Montgomery Zukerman (MZD) Public Relations.

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