Syrus Yarbrough had a rather nondescript career when he was playing for the UH-Hilo basketball team from 1993 to 1995.
The guard, from Santa Monica, Calif., isn’t found anywhere in the UHH career books.
In fact, his backcourt partner, Michael Redwood, is still listed among UHH career leaders in assists, steals and 3-point percentage.
In the Curious case of where are they now?, it’s almost impossible to not know about Yarbrough, 48, unless you don’t own a TV.
Some former Vulcans become doctors, lawyers or mail carriers. Yarbrough was destined to hobnob with celebrities, and is now a network consultant after decades on TV, mostly starring in MTV reality roles.
“I’ve been around celebrities all my life,” he said. “It’s a standard way of life for me. Gary Coleman was in my brother’s high school class.”
Yarbrough dropped more than his fair share of “What you talkin bout, Willis?” whenever he ran into Coleman.
Santa Monica High produced several acting stars, such as Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Lenny Kravitz, Carson Daly and Dean Cain, when Yarbrough was attending school.
“I was on ‘Baywatch’ each summer in Hawaii,” he said. “After graduation, I got on a TV show. That’s been my whole lifestyle, and I’m accustomed to it. I’ve been on nine different shows, the Real World Challenge five times, a hip Hop show, a relations countdown show, and I feel like the public knows about my personality.”
Through his shows, he’s worked with Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Reggie Miller, Marky Mark (who goes by Mark Wahlberg now), Method Man and Kevin Garnett, to name a short list.
“I also lecture at colleges and universities. I speak a lot about diversity, about people getting along and why kids should get involved in the political process and create their own platforms,” he said.
When he was at UHH, Yarbrough had that entrepreneurial spirit going, as former teammate Eddie “Piki” Hayward recalls.
“What I remember about Syrus is he was always looking to do promotions like dorm parties, Hilo night club, UH-Hilo dances, and even hair cutting for both guys and girls at the dorms,” Hayward said. “Reggae music was his music of choice. He even tried to do some singing, too. Let’s say, he was better at basketball.”
Yarbrough graduated with a communications degree, which became a beneficial combination with his gift of gab.
He’s been on MTV’s “The Real World” and was in four movies: “Reservation”, “Reboot Camp,” “The Trouble,” and “The Wedding Video.” None have been nominated for an Oscar, but in these coronavirus pandemic times maybe it’s fun to watch, if your Nextflix movie choices have been exhausted.
He was also in Eminem’s Without Me music video, available for free viewing pleasure on YouTube.
Redwood lives in Chino Hills, about an hour away. He’s a probation officer, and the two haven’t been able to hit the courts due to the pandemic.
“That’s the biggest change in my life right now,” Yarbrough said. “There’s no basketball right now. I’m a L.A. Lakers fan only. I’ve always loved the purple and gold.”
Yarbrough still keeps in touch with Hayward and has fond memories of his time in Hilo.
“There are great people and a sense of ohana,” he said. “It’s a different vibe the way they make it feel. They believe in their culture and values.
“I’d go boogie boarding with Eddie Hayward a lot,” Yarbrough said. “I remember one time in Waipio Valley we were feeding the horses. That was pretty damn cool. I haven’t been to Hilo in a while. I was on Oahu last year because my best friend got married.”
Yarbrough, the bachelor of Santa Monica, met his match in Stacy Elmer. Like longtime bachelor George Clooney, Yarbrough will tie the knot some time in the future.
Like all celebrities, A-listers to MTV stars, a spotlight follows wherever you go. One summer, Hayward was in Los Angeles and met up with Yarbrough.
“It was crazy,” Hayward said. “He had a Scout convertible and was driving though L.A. town, and it was crazy to see how many people recognized him. As we went through a mall, it was hard to go anywhere without being followed or stopped for pictures.
“For me, it was a bit too much. But I guess that’s expected when you are on a TV show that draws that much viewers.”
Besides promotions, writing screen plays, and starring in shows, he’s also dabbled in a clothing line and started on his autobiography.
“I like to stay active and I’m busy enjoying life in L.A.,” he said.
He hopes his book leads to a movie, sort of like Howard Stern’s flick, “Private Parts”.
Asked whom he’d like to play the lead role, Yarbrough didn’t need to look to see if his 3-point shot swished through the net.
“I’ll play me,” he said. “Who knows how big it could be?”
With Yarbrough promoting his own movie about himself, it will be far from nondescript.