Former Hornets Mascot Shares His Experience - myfoxcarolinas.com

Former Hornets Mascot Shares His Experience

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Michael Zerrillo recalls the first time he got on the basketball court in 1990.

"They said well just go out and clap to the music and get the crowd clapping when its a good time out... I just went out and started clapping. I wasn't on beat. Didn't hear the music,” Zerrillo said.

He eventually became one with the character Hugo the Hornet.

"It took probably a year and a half until I felt like I put the costume on and I'd see myself walking by a building and reflection and said wow, im dressed and ready for work,” he said.

He captivated sold-out crowds with his front-flip slam dunks and jaw-dropping gymnastic skills. When the team moved to New Orleans in 2002, he went with them. But things got a little tough when he started a family of his own.

"My family was back here. I would fly in and do 3-4 games and fly back home. It was a little bit tough for my family, because I was gone at long periods of time,” he said.

After three seasons, the team relocated to Oklahoma City due to Hurricane Katrina... and by the time the Hornets returned back to New Orleans in 2007, Michael figured this would be a good time to hang out the uniform.

"In 17 years I missed four games, and all of them because of surgeries,” he said.

After retiring as a mascot, it took him a while to transition out of the costume.

"I don't know if I'm completely detached yet. Me and Hugo the Hornet will always have a connection,” he said.

Zerrillo says that connection will be there forever. And you can expect him to be in the crowd when the BUZZ comes back to town.


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