He’s in the gym draining basket after basket after basket, while crowds marvel.
Two year-old Trick Shot Titus stands next to his father Joseph Ashby, modelling his smooth stroke in their city’s community centre. It’s common practice; in both senses of the word.
Titus has become a YouTube sensation because of his uncanny and sometimes unbelievable basketball skills. He’s like a miniature Robert Horry without as much hair.
Don’t think it’s just students who are intrigued by the titan that is Titus. He made numerous appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live, going undefeated in a shooting competition against the likes of Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Jason Collins and the futile free-throw shooter, Shaquille O’Neal.
“We were actually on Katie Couric’s day time talk show with the Grown Ups 2 cast which included Shaq,” said Ashby. “By that time they were old friends and Titus would walk up to him and high-five and he was really excited to see him again. He could hide behind Shaq’s hand.”
Titus practices relentlessly in his family home in Derby, Kansas. He watches NCAA and NBA games scouting the free throw shots of some of the best players in the world. But, it’s not just a solo show of natural talent. He’s constantly encouraged and cheered by his three – soon to be four – siblings and parents.
“Very occasionally they ask me to film them doing something and put it on YouTube,” laughed Ashby. “But for the most part, we just have really well adjusted kids I guess. We home school and we don’t watch a lot of TV so I don’t know if they have the same concept of fame and celebrity that maybe other people would. They’re just not jealous. They’re really cool about it. “
When all things were coming up Titus, like many promising youngsters in the NBA, he suffered a heart-wrenching injury.
After going eight-for-eight on Fox and Friends on national television, Titus took an unexpected lob pass to the nose. The incident caused nightmares, and he wasn’t able to take a bounce-pass for some time. But like all the greats, he bounced back with the help of his family, hard work and of course, a training diet.
“Cereal in the morning, peanut butter and jam at lunch and something for dinner.”
“We went to the city rec centre and played basketball for an hour and a half probably, and then we went into the swimming pool. I had asked him several times, ‘Should we go swimming’, and he said, ‘no, I want to keep playing’,” said Ashby. “Eventually, I said, ‘we have to go now if were going to go swimming at all’. So we get in the pool and the first place he goes is to the hoop inside of the pool and shoots there the entire time.”
The two year-old sure-shot sensation took his talents to Spain, where he called on all challengers, demolishing Hollywood A-listers, Bradley Cooper, and Channing Tatum.
But Titus isn’t all business all the time. Sometimes, he’s looking for other challenges.
“We did five Jimmy Kimmel’s shooting contests, four with NBA players and one with the host, and by the time we got towards the end he didn’t want to rehearse anymore,” explained Ashby. “He was like, ‘what? You want me to stand still and make shots – that’s really boring. I want to run around and challenge myself’, but then when it came time to be on camera and he knew the crowd was there, he got more business like. So he differentiates between practice and work.”
“I don’t think there’s any end goal. We just sort of do what we think would be fun for the family.”
The Greek meaning of the name Titus is, “Titan; of the giants.” He may not be a giant in size, but he is in talent.