December 21, 2001 - by
Nigel Dixon Is Florida State’s Big Man In The Middle

Dec. 21, 2001

Nigel Dixon, big man in the center, aka “Big Jelly”, walks in a glide and
is quick to offer a smile and a gentle handshake. Not what one might
expect from a man who stands 6’10” and weighs in at 341 pounds.

“A lot of people think (because of my size) I’m mean and unapproachable,
but I’m one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet. I love kids and I love
to talk with people. I save my mean streak for the court.”

And so far that has been a good thing for the Florida State Men’s
Basketball program.

Graduating from Edgewater High School in Orlando in 1999, Nigel found the
transition of life away from home easier because of the faith instilled in
him as a kid.

“My mom, she kept the religion going at our house,” noted Nigel. “She led
me in prayer and I strongly believe that prayer helps, especially when you
get down and depressed.”

Nigel says coming to college was something he always wanted to do. In
fact, he felt it was a necessary part of life in order to become the best
person possible.

“I saw going away to college as a way of achieving my goals, mainly just to
be a better person, I prayed about it and now that I’m here I know it’s for
a reason.”

Nigel’s strength isn’t the only thing he inherited. His size is
another. Nigel’s dad stands 6’7″, and his mom, 6’3″. By the time he was
thirteen his shoe size matched his age. Nigel says he was never picked on
as a kid.

“I was always bigger than everyone else, if anyone ever did anything it was
on the run.”

That’s something teammate Delvon Arrington took to heart when once pulling
a prank on Nigel. Delvon knew his 5’11” frame would be no match when
standing toe-to-toe with .’Big Jelly’. Once after practice while Nigel was
in the shower Delvon decided to take his towel. All the other players were
in their team meeting and Nigel had to walk in “pretty much naked.” That’s
a team meeting he would like to forget. True to his words that he’s a
“funny guy” Nigel took that incident in stride.

One fact most people don’t know about Nigel is that he was recruited by
both the University of Florida and Clemson to play football although he
had never played organized football. Not even in youth league. “I never
really wanted to play,” says Nigel. “Sure I was asked to play, I mean any
coach in his right mind would try to get a kid my size to play
football. In youth league I was too big to play and I think that’s why I
never got into it. I just stuck to basketball.” While on the topic of
sports other than basketball, Nigel said if there was any sport he had ever
tried and was just awful at it was ping-pong. “That little ball…it’s just
horrible…horrible,” he said while hanging his head. I had to hide the
smile on my face. The thought of “Big Jelly” trying to hold that small
paddle while chasing something the size of a marble to him was just too
much. And what about racquetball? Well, that’s a sport Nigel says he
would really love to learn how to play. He says he thinks it would be a
good way to relieve stress. Perhaps a better name for racquetball would be
“Nigel-sized ping-pong”.

In light of recent events it’s impossible to sit down and talk to anyone
without bringing up the September 11 attacks. Nigel recently turned
twenty-one and has already experienced those actions surrounding the
current war against terrorism and Desert Storm.

When asked what his thoughts were on this he replied, “I know I can’t
control any of it, so I just pray about it. I bet all of those people who
went to work that morning (in the Pentagon and World Trade Center) thought
they were coming home at the end of the day, but they didn’t. It’s made me
look at everything differently. It’s crazy, something could happen to us
sitting here right now. And with Devaughn Darling’s death and Eric Powell
being shot (both Florida State football players), there’s a chance I may
leave the locker room and not see one of my teammates ever again. That’s
why I don’t like arguing with my teammates, life’s too short. My mom
always said, .’tomorrow is not promised so do your best’. I think of that
every morning when I wake up.”

After reflecting on recent world events Nigel says we all could use more

“I believe with everything going on in the world today we need to look back
at the teachings of leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. He stood for
peace and tolerance. He tried to teach us that at some point we will be
looking at each other for help. Even though he’s not with us anymore we
could sure learn a lot from him.”

Nigel’s thankful for the opportunities he’s been allowed here at Florida
State but he’s careful to note that being an athlete isn’t the .’free ride’
some may think.

“If you’re lucky enough to be on scholarship you have your tuition paid but
that doesn’t mean it’s all downhill. That’s a great head start, but it
doesn’t mean the road has been paved for you.”

He acknowledges that everyone has struggles and says he has his “good days
and bad” but being an athlete is extremely stressful. Trying to fit
everything in is not an easy task to accomplish especially when you’re deep
into the road schedule. Although he says it’s stressful, Nigel is quick to
say that it’s just stuff similar to what everyone has to deal with in these
high pace times.

And just how does Nigel relax and regenerate? In addition to watching
television he loves looking at old cars and collecting tropical fish. Some
of his favorite cars are those manufactured during the late sixties.

“I don’t own any, I just love looking at them.”

He says he also has a large fish tank at home and enjoys collecting
different types of fish. At the conclusion of our interview I couldn’t
help being struck by the contrast of Nigel’s size and personality. His
outward appearance is misleading. It pushes you toward believing you’d
more likely find him at a wresting match than a fish store. You’d also
tend to think he’d be found participating in that wrestling match rather
than strolling through a car museum. But for this gentle giant it’s the
fish store and the car museum. He’s a peaceful person whose final answer
summed him up perfectly.

When asked if there’s one question Nigel’s always wanted to be asked during
an interview he responded with a sly grin, “Yeah, how am I living?” His
answer, “I’m doing pretty good.”

By Lynn Hobby
Sports Information Coordinator

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