Horace Grant is so enchanted by his adopted home on California’s Central Coast that he might be mistaken for a Realtor or tourism-council spokesman.
"It’s so serene," he says. "It’s such a beautiful area."
At the moment, the former Lakers forward is seated in the living room of a rented hilltop home high above Pismo Beach.
Out the window on a clear winter day, views of the jagged coastline are magnificent, stretching from San Luis Obispo Bay to the northwest, the shimmering Pacific Ocean dead ahead and, to the south, the Pismo Dunes Natural Preserve and beyond.
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Later, from the deck, the 45-year-old Grant points south toward Arroyo Grande, where his home is under renovation.
Grant, whose 17-season NBA career yielded four championship rings with the Lakers and Chicago Bulls, was introduced to the area by his wife, Andrea, who grew up in Santa Maria.
She and Grant met 10 years ago in Los Angeles, where Grant was helping Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers win the second of three consecutive NBA titles.
"When we first started dating, I knew that she was the one," Grant says of his wife, "so whenever we got time, we would drive up here from L.A. to visit her parents.
"And I said, ’Wow, I could get used to this.’ I loved the small-town atmosphere, the relaxed feel, and I met a lot of good people around here. And so I put my foot in my mouth and said, ’I think I might retire here.’ And she held me to it."