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Stephen Bardo
Illinois

Photo of Stephen Bardo

Stephen Bardo is a motivational master. His experience on the basketball court and as a television analyst helped forge his fast-paced presentations that provide audiences with tools they can use immediately to achieve greater results in their professions.

Growing up in Carbondale, Illinois, Bardo always strived to be the best at anything he did. This included school and especially sports where Stephen was an All-State and honorable mention All-American basketball player in high school and led his team to the state tournament. All of his hard work and dedication paid off when he received a scholarship from the University of Illinois.

At Illinois, Stephen started all four years at point guard and helped the Fighting Illini reach the NCAA tournament each season. During his successful collegiate career Stephen was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the year and made all conference twice. He led the "Flyin' Illini" to the Final Four in 1989, one of the most memorable teams in NCAA history.

After graduating from Illinois, Stephen was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1990 NBA draft (2nd round, 41st pick overall). All had gone according to plan to this point, but this is where Stephen's professional life really began. He was devastated one night during the preseason when he was called into the coaches' office to learn he had been cut from the team. In shock, and not once had he given any thought that he would not make it straight to the NBA, Bardo regrouped and played in the CBA (developmental league for the NBA). He soon returned to his winning ways and led his team to Game 7 of the CBA championship, only to lose in the final seconds during his rookie season.

A year later he played his way onto the Dallas Mavericks, realizing yet another dream. Stephen went on to have a 10-year career with stops in the NBA (including Detroit, Dallas, and San Antonio), the CBA, and overseas in France, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Venezuela. His very last game of his career, Stephen walked off the floor with a championship, a winner!

During the off seasons of his playing career Stephen worked with television stations and ran his own sports marketing company, preparing himself for the day the ball stopped bouncing. Once the ball stopped, he didn't miss a beat. A college basketball analyst for ESPN since 2005, Stephen made the move to the Big Ten Network in 2013. "The Big Ten is home for me," says Bardo. "When I was playing in the Big Ten, it was the best college basketball conference in country, and I don't see why it can't be the same today." A successful author and speaker, Stephen is also the proud father of two sons.

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  • Don't Let the Stone Stop You: Overcoming Adversity in Business and Life : Stephen Bardo's message "Don't Let The Stone Stop You" fits well for today's turbulent economic times. His emphasis that you control your destiny regardless of unsettled world issues rings true whether his audience includes CEOs, entrepreneurs or coaches. Among the stories that Bardo shares are his challenges en route to his road to playing in the NBA. His is a story of overcoming personal and professional adversity, something with which most audiences identify in some way.

  • "Stephen Bardo is one of the best, and nicest speakers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend him to any group!" -- Insurance Association Executive
The Flyin' Illini How To Make The League
The Flyin' Illini: The Untold Story of One of College Basketball's Elite Teams How To Make The League Without Picking Up The Rock: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide

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