Rex Chapman is a comeback story and a Twitter feed for our time

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A group of friends are running down a sidewalk through a blinding rain, desperate to get into their car and into the dryness. The guys out front, they see the stop sign up ahead and scatter accordingly to avoid it. But the dude in the back, he does not. He plows into the metal pole with such force that when his body suddenly stops moving, his feet skate atop the wet concrete and he ends up clinging to the pole for dear life, his friends laughing hysterically over his plight.

That’s nothing; the world into which he retweeted that video a week earlier has watched the clip 3 million times and counting, over 700,000 views from Chapman’s original post and another 2 million-plus from the seemingly endless cycle of retweets. They think it’s hilarious. So does Chapman. He thinks this whole damn thing is hilarious. Not just the guy smacking into the street sign but his new role as @RexChapman, the man who fills our Twitter timelines not with pandemics and politics but with pratfalls and practical jokes.

“A social media influencer. I’m not even sure what that means,” Chapman says from his home in Lexington, Kentucky. “Me, an influencer? Man, I hope not.”nfl nike jersey cheap

As unlikely as that idea once might have seemed, Chapman has more than 580,000 Twitter followers. That’s 10 times more than he had one year ago, a swelling of devotees that began with a tweet on Jan. 10, 2019.2

Before that day, his followers were almost exclusively basketball fans who had rooted for Chapman as a Kentucky high school hoops phenom, a Kentucky Wildcats legend and a 12-season NBA player who found fame as the first-ever draft pick of the Charlotte Hornets, a player who electrified the NBA slam dunk contest and who, as a member of the Miami Heat in 1996, hung 39 points on Michael Jordan and the legendary Chicago UnbeataBulls. His prolific on-court career brought followers like Ice-T and Chuck D, and Steph Curry, who has known Chapman his entire life via father Dell, a Hornets teammate and still one of Chapman’s closest friends.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

But since his tweet that January day, hundreds of thousands have followed Chapman’s account — including Bootsy Collins and the Imam of Peace, Mark Hamill and Chris Pratt, state governors and international news correspondents. Most of those newbies have no clue he ever played basketball.

In Lexington, once known as “Rexington,” Big Blue Nation citizens above a certain age certainly remember the 6-foot-4 former Mr. Basketball who was a pre-viral viral superstar, hiding out in his dorm room and in the gym to avoid rabid fans at age 18. They likely also remember his succession of addictions over the years, which ranged from hoops drills and swimming to betting on horses and a five-bottle-a-day diet of painkillers that damn near killed him. They might have seen his mug shot from 2014, the first item that appears from a Google search.

But the vast majority of recent arrivals to the Rex Chapman bandwagon likely aren’t aware of his vaunted history on the court or his deep struggles off it.

“I was at the SEC tournament last year,” he says. “I went to get my credential, and it was eight to 10 interns, just college students there helping out. I showed them my ID, and they said, ‘Are you Rex Chapman, the guy from Twitter?!’ I went, ‘Yeah, that’s me, getting my credential. Let’s go.'”