One boy, growing up in Widnes, held a dream of making the NBA. It didn’t quite come true but along the way, Delme Herriman learnt about where he had come from, where he could go and the power of basketball to shape lives, his own included.

It is a rich tale expanded in the autobiography – entitled ‘Mr. Versatility’ – of the former England international, who recounts his journey from a shapeless northern town, via high school and college in the United States, to a professional tour of Europe that ended up not far from where it all began.

Adopted as a child, Herriman recounts the challenges of being a black kid in a white family and a white environment, and the impact of racism on both sides of the ocean. And how his stepdad pushed him to achieve what few from the UK, at that point, had accomplished by securing a career in the sport.

MVP caught up with Delme – now the player-coach of Warrington Wolves – to hear more…

First of all, why did you decide to write the book?

Herriman finished his career at Everton Tigers

Well, it definitely wasn’t because John Amaechi had written one as well! When we were at the Commonwealth Games in 2006, he told me he was doing one. And he said to me: ‘you should do one as well.’ I thought it was amazing he was doing it but I laughed off the idea. About 18 months ago, I was talking to my sister Kirstie, who had done various degrees at university, and asked her: ‘what exactly are you doing?’ She told me she was doing a Masters Degree in Creative Writing. She wanted to be an author and she said: ‘we should write your life story together.’

So that’s where it started. I started writing out my life, I’d send it to her, she would go over it, put her own spin on it, send it back to me and see if I liked it. It was a fairly straightforward process, doing it chapter by chapter.

You talk a lot in the book about this incredible process you went through, just to get to the college level at Wright State University. Everything fell into place. It seemed relatively straight-forward. But what was the experience like of understanding that you were good enough, and then obtaining the chance to go to the USA to prove yourself?

The biggest part of the book was the dream part. You’ll remember what it’s like to be a kid, the night before Christmas. It was that feeling of excitement, just the thought that I could possibly go to America. In the late eighties, I was in Widnes. It was a rugby town. I’m 14 years-old. How do I get to America?

I was one of the first people to go after Steve Bucknall. Nowdays, it’s quite straightforward. You see kids going to college or to Gran Canaria all the time. Then, it was only Steve and Karl Brown who were in college. Amaechi and me were the next two, so you could count us all on one hand. It was hard to do. It came down to the inner desire that I had to make it happen.

Luckily, my brother helped arrange it by meeting a high school coach over there. He was a good player. He was the MVP of a national basketball camp in Leeds and that got him an opportunity to go over as a prize. If Gid hadn’t have gone, he wouldn’t have met that coach and I might never have gone. Luckily, it fell into place. But it wasn’t through dreaming. It’s about what’s inside you and having the drive to do it.

You talk at length in the book about the experience of being adopted – and how your adoptive family became subsequently a mix of two families. You seemed to have a drive to forge an identity of your own. Was that tied up in your drive to make it as a basketball player?

It could have been. I always felt a little out of place, whether it was because of my colour, or where I grew up. The main thing was that my Mum, my adoptive Mum, was a huge support and driving force. My stepdad, Ray, would drive me twice a week to Manchester. He’d sit on the bench. He’d listen to my dream. Those were the two people who really made it happen because without their backing, I’d never have been able to do it. I couldn’t have gone to Manchester on my own at 14. Without them believing in me, I wouldn’t have got there.

You encountered some racism growing up in Widnes but it seemed to catch you unawares when you went to high school in Ohio as an exchange student. It seems unusual now, given how much we hear about racial tension in the USA. But was it a real eye-opener then when you went over?

It was. America’s a massive place but where I went to, it was a very small town not far from Amish Country in eastern Ohio. It wasn’t a normal place. For example, they didn’t like it if I dated white girls. The message was: ‘You can’t do that in this town.’ It wasn’t blatant but it was quietly told to me. That shocked me because I came from a white family in a white town. There wasn’t much racism in Widnes. That wasn’t a rule there. So that opened up my eyes and when I went to college, I changed a bit. But I don’t think that’s the case all over America, just where I went.

You spent five years at university, having redshirted your first year. Were the college days the best days of your life?

I would say so. I feel like it’s been all downhill since then! That was my pinnacle. Obviously, the NBA was always the pinnacle but I’d had to get into college to give myself a shot. You have to be fortunate to be in the right situation. You see some British guys going over and they don’t play. I really played a lot. But I wasn’t really on great terms with my head coach and if that had been different, maybe I could have gone further. The assistant coach, Jim Brown, was fantastic but there was only so much he could do. And I wonder if I had been on good terms, and he’d had that extra faith in me, if I could have gone to the next level.

You eventually came back to Europe, and had a great career in Italy and Germany, as well as in Britain. When you left college, without going to the NBA, did it feel disappointment, as if your dreams had been dashed?

German side Giessen was just one of Herriman's clubs

One of my best friends is (former NBA All Star) Allan Houston. Right throughout college, I’d go up to Detroit and play against NBA players. I was able to gauge my talent and he’d also judge it. He told me I was better than a few guys on the Pistons bench. So there was always that link. Through that, I got offered a try-out with the Toronto Raptors in the September after graduation. But I already had a signed, guaranteed contract in Italy by that June. So I skipped the try-out.

Once I got to Italy, I lost the desire to look at the NBA. In the first year in Italy, I lost that burning desire to go to the next level, and to do what it takes to compete at that level. I just lost a lot of love.

Looking at your professional career, what stands out as being the absolute highlight?

That’s a tough one. Even though the surroundings weren’t as good, I have a very fond memory of winning a BBL Championship at Chester Jets. I didn’t have a team house or team car. I wasn’t on a lot of money. The facilities weren’t good. But the fact of winning, the camaraderie, being able to play in my natural position as a guard, that was enough. The only thing I’d not done was to prove myself as a guard – and win. Even though it was less money that I’d earnt in mainland Europe, and was less glamorous, it was all I’d ever really wanted.

But the reason college is so good is that you effectively get a four-year contract. In Europe, every year, you can end up going to a different team. You can play a different position. That’s not fun all the time. I’d rather have a stable deal and sign for three years somewhere. I wanted to end my career at Chester but it didn’t happen. The sponsors pulled out. So it was back to square one again.

You’re now coaching at Warrington in EBL Division 4. Is this an exciting new chapter to be added to the book one day?

It’s something which came out of the blue in Warrington. They’ve invested in me but there are no guarantees in funding beyond this season because there are no sponsors. I’m enjoying it but next year, I could be out of a job. That’s just basketball in this country.

If you’re a kid, sitting somewhere like Widnes or elsewhere in the UK, who has a dream now of making the NBA, what advice would you give them?

Don’t lose sight of your books. You need something to fall back on because there is more chance of winning the Lottery than making the NBA. Always have a Plan B, even if it’s just getting grades and going to school. If you don’t have those, you can’t go to college anyway so it’s important. But believe in your dream and do everything you can to make it happen.

There’s that saying: ‘Aim for the stars and if you miss them, you’ll still be in the clouds.’ Go as far as you can go.



We have a copy of ‘Mr. Versatility’ to give away to one lucky reader of MVP. All you have to do is answer this simple question.

 Which university did Delme attend?

A – Left State

B – Wright State

C – Wrong State 

Email your answer – along with full name and your postal address – to, and put ‘Delme‘ in the Subject.

The closing date is November 3 and we’ll draw a winner from all the correct answers.

 If you don’t win, the book is on sale now at

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