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Torii Hunter

Torii Kedar Hunter was born on July 18, 1975 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, about 45 minutes southeast of the state capital, Little Rock.

Torii Kedar Hunter was born on July 18, 1975 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, about 45 minutes southeast of the state capital, Little Rock.

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Torii Hunter Biography

One of four boys produced by Theotis and Shirley Hunter, Torii was a gifted athlete who idolized his older brother, Taru. He credits his sibling with helping him develop into the player he is today.

Shirley worked as an elementary school teacher in Little Rock, and Theotis was an electrical engineer who found steady employment in a cotton mill and with the railways. Despite their long hours on the job, providing the bare necessities was sometimes a struggle. Electric bills didn’t always get paid, and roaches and rats were often unwelcome housemates. Torii slept on a towel when the old mattress in his bedroom became too disgusting.

Shirley and Theotis relied on their boys to look after themselves. This made Torii and his brothers mature beyond their years. He learned to cook by age 10. Baking cakes was his specialty.

Pine Bluff was not the type of place you'd find pictured in a Norman Rockwell painting. The Hunters lived on the east side of town, where crime and drugs offered tempting shortcuts to the bored and desperate. The Hunter boys were crazy about sports, however, which provided a perfect alternative to life on the corner. Torii, who possessed amazing speed, had a sixth sense for tracking down footballs and baseballs. Taru challenged his little brother to run down long bombs and deep flies, and marveled as the ball settled into his soft hands no matter how far he had to run for it.

Torii's first love was football. On offense he lined up at quarterback—he had the best arm in town—and on defense he patrolled the secondary as a hard-hitting free safety. Of course, come the spring the youngster turned to baseball. Torii started in tee-ball at age eight, and played in organized leagues every summer, including Little League and Babe Ruth, right into his teens. As a talented two-sport star, he naturally discovered a hero in Auburn’s Bo Jackson. Torii marveled at Jackson's sprinter's speed, raw power and impeccable instincts—and thrilled with the rest of the country as he became a star for the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Royals in the 1980s.

Torii entered Pine Bluff High School as a sophomore in 1990, and immediately became a football star. He also made headlines in basketball and track for the Zebras. Success in baseball was slower to come, but by his junior season, Torii was distinguishing himself on the diamond. No matter how good he was, however, he could not hope to be the best in the school at any sport. That distinction belonged to his friend Basil Shabazz.


Considered by many to be the greatest prep athlete in Arkansas history, Shabazz could do it all. Though he played just one season of baseball, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and received a $150,000 signing bonus. The notoriety helped Torii’s cause; when the scouts came to see Shabazz, they noticed him, too. Voted an All-State performer his last two seasons, Torii had already begun his thieving ways, both on the basepaths and in centerfield, where he regularly robbed opponents of homers and extra-base hits. He was no slouch at the plate, either. He generated excellent bat speed, and once hit a 550-foot homer, according to Zebra coach Billy Bock.

In 1992, Torii was named to the U.S. Junior Olympic baseball squad. When the teenager couldn't come up with the money to cover team expenses, he wrote Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and received a check for $500.

In the spring of 1993, Torii was wooed by several college recruiters, including Bill Springman of Pepperdine, which had a superb baseball program. He was intrigued by the idea of a college scholarship until he began hearing rumors that he might be taken in the first round of the draft. Torii was surprised that he was regarded so highly, but by draft day the rumors had been confirmed.

Some 50 relatives gathered at the Hunter home on June 3rd to await news of where Torii was headed. He secretly hoped to be selected by the Atlanta Braves. Georgia wasn't too far Arkansas, the team was building a dynasty, and almost all of the club's games were shown on cable. But when the phone rang, it was the Twins, who had tabbed him with the 20th pick overall. Mike Ruth, the team's Midwest Scouting Director, had first spotted him in the spring of 1991 and monitored his progress from there. Torii wasn't sure what to think. All he knew of Minnesota was Kirby Puckett. After the draft, a local television station wanted wanted to do an interview with Torii wearing a Twins hat. A friend was dispatched to the mall, but no one could find one.

A few days later, Ruth arrived at the Hunter home and sweated out a brief negotiation in their un-air conditioned living room. Torii accepted the team’s signing bonus of $450,000 and packed his bags for Fort Myers, Florida.

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    Torii Hunter is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Baseball.
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Torii Hunter is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Torii Hunter for your event is available upon request. Torii Hunter generally travels from and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Ron Gardenhire, Justin Morneau, Paul Molitor, Joe Mauer and Paul Konerko. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Torii Hunter for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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