Shooting for the Stars
Jimbo Rayl Talks “Hoosiers” Role and Post-Retirement Life
If the saying “Everyone is famous for 15 minutes” is true, then Kokomo native Jimbo Rayl has had more than his share of fame. Longtime locals might know that in the 1980s, Rayl had a brief brush with Hollywood stars on the big screen. In more recent years, many people saw him in a Facebook video that went viral. In between, he played college basketball and served customers on a United Parcel Service (UPS) route that he held for 30 years. These days he enjoys living in the community and working as a State Farm account representative.
Friends of Rayl know that besides basketball, he absolutely loves baseball. Until he was a sophomore in high school, he played both sports. Then genetics took over and basketball became his focus. His father was the legendary Jim Rayl who played for the Indiana Pacers professional basketball team.
“I spend most of the summer at Wrigley Field,” Rayl says. “I’m a Chicago Cubs season ticket holder. Every year I take Matt Painter, Purdue University head basketball coach, to a game whenever he gets a free weekend. I liked the game of baseball the best, but I was better at basketball. After my freshman year in high school, I gave baseball up to concentrate on basketball. I played at Kokomo Haworth for two years and then Kokomo High School for my junior and senior years. When I was a senior we won the regional for Kokomo for the first time since the ‘60s.”
Rayl’s position on the team was shooting guard. Typically, the position calls for an individual who can do it all – dribble fast, pass quickly and be the best outside shooter. Rayl caught the attention of the basketball coach at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. After being recruited, he played his freshman and sophomore year until the coach left the program.
While Rayl was a college sophomore, he became the first player in the school’s history to be benched by the NCAA. After finding out Rayl played a small part in the 1986 movie “Hoosiers,” the association required he sit out the first three games of the season and pay a portion of his earnings back.
“NCAA said I was paid to play basketball,” Rayl says. “The summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year in college, I heard they were having open auditions for the movie at IUPUI in Indianapolis. Over 100 people auditioned, then 50 were called back. They had me read lines and play a bit of basketball in front of the casting director. After that, they cut it to 20 and I did more line reading in front of the producers and others.”
“I got selected to be number five for Terhune, the rival of Hickory,” he continues. “It actually turned out to be a big scene. I was getting ready to shoot a free throw when the assistant coach walked on the floor intoxicated and there was a big fight. For five days I got to hang out with Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper and Barbara Hershey. It’s something I never got to do again.”
Rayl finished college at Indiana University Kokomo where he earned a criminal justice degree from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. After graduating he took a job with UPS. While driving the same route for three decades, he got to know the people on his route well. When Ring doorbell cameras became popular, he couldn’t resist occasionally having a bit of fun.
During the December before he retired in March of 2019, a customer asked him if it would be alright if she posted a video of him doing a short dance. Within three hours, it amassed a million views on Facebook. It was shown across the United States on news shows such as “Good Morning America,” as well as international outlets like the Daily Mail website.
“We signed up with ViralHog, a monetizing company,” he says. “Checks came in for over a year. I made more money on that video than I did being in ‘Hoosiers.’”
Before he and his wife Laurie, a fourth-grade teacher at Western Primary School, had children, they traveled the world. Rayl’s favorite destination was Cape Town, South Africa, where he attended professional racing driver Stephen Simpson’s wedding.
“The 24-hour plane ride there was brutal, but Cape Town is beautiful with mountains, beaches and vineyards,” Rayl says. “It is where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Even though it’s warm, they have penguins.”
Since retiring from UPS, Rayl has not slowed down. For a couple years he had the opportunity to be an assistant basketball coach at Kokomo High School. At the present time he’s happy to be working for State Farm Insurance and attending his daughter Rhys’s softball games, along with his son Jace’s basketball games.
“I live right on the Tipton County/Howard County Line,” he says. “It only takes 30 minutes to get to Carmel. I love the low cost of living in Kokomo and closeness to Indianapolis.”