Back when Ahmaad Crump was growing up, his friends knew that even if they were out in the neighborhood and playing on a Saturday morning, Crump wouldn't be joining them until noon. That's because The Price is Right didn't end until then, and Crump was a gameshow junkie.
"I loved them all," says Crump. "But my friends knew not to knock on my door until it was over."
He knew then that he wanted to have a mic in his hand for the rest of his life, and things have turned out that way in more ways than he could have imagined. Not only did he finally get a chance to host his own gameshow — Beer Money on STO — but a good portion of his year is spent, mic in hand, entertaining more than 20,000 Cavs fans at Quicken Loans Arena.
"I probably would have been hustling regardless of that opportunity," says Crump of the Cavs gig, "but never did I imagine being front of that many fans each night."
Crump was working as a records clerk at Ulmer & Berne, a big downtown law firm at the time, back in the mid-2000s. He wanted to be a lawyer after graduating from Central State University. But his dreams changed course, leading him back to the mic. He was on the Cavs' scream team in 2003 and 2004. When Dan Gilbert bought the Cavs, he wanted to start over with a fresh crew — new dance crew, new excitement, new everything.
"I saw an article on Cavs.com that said they were looking for PA announcers so I tried out," says Crump. "And I bombed the audition. There were three judges, and there was a simulated game, and they gave you a script but you had to memorize it as best as possible. I wasn't used to that."
One night in 2005 when current in-game partner Nicole Cuglewski called in sick, the Cavs called Crump to fill in, and after a few jittery moments, he nailed it. And he finally got his shot at the PA gig for the 2006-2007 season — a perch he hasn't relinquished since. From the start, one of the employees suggested dropping a mic from the ceiling, a la boxing matches. It's become part of Crump's routine as he blares out, "Annnnnnd from St. Vincent St. Mary ..."
Each player gets Crump's little touch — Mo Williams, returning next season, was one of the few players with a specific request, asking Crump to introduce him as MoGotti — and there's a certain specialness in announcing No. 23, but Crump is equal opportunity with the flare.
"When LeBron announced he was coming back last summer, I think the next day I started practicing for that first game at the Q," says Crump, who's been married for three years and recently welcomed a daughter to the family. "But at the end of the day, as great a player as he is, it's all about the team."
Crump, incidentally, hasn't missed a single game, and his streak — currently at 445 straight games — is almost at another Cleveland milestone: the Tribe's sellout streak.