He came in with her shoe, but he said he'd give it back.
Carrying Pat Summitt's alligator skin loafer, David Adickes, the sculptor of the Pat Summitt statue that will be unveiled today, stood in front of local press in the Pratt Pavilion Wednesday for a press conference about his work.
However, he intended to talk about more than just this sculpture.
Also a painter, Adickes works out of Houston to create colossal pieces of adored figures. Summitt's figure was commissioned by the university through longtime donor to UT, Chris LaPorte. An alumnus from UT, LaPorte also lives in Houston and purchases many of Adickes works.
Introducing himself, Adickes acknowledged his reason for being in Knoxville was one of high importance.
"First of all," Adickes said, "it's a great pleasure to be here and to do this statue of this great, iconic person known around the world."
Though Summitt is his first sports figure to sculpt, Adickes is no stranger to replicating local heroes.
His largest work is of Sam Houston in Huntsville, Texas – standing 67 feet tall. Recently, he finished a piece of Charlie Wilson, a former Texas congressman who helped bring down Russian helicopters Afganistan in the 80s.
"He was a crazy guy," Adickes laughed.
Adickes has also created large busts of all 43 U.S. presidents that are each 20 feet tall. Busts similar to these also decorate his hometown.
"There are four big busts in Houston right on Interstate 10 going into downtown, which is called Mount Rush Hour because the traffic gets stopped there every morning," Adickes said. "Washington, Lincoln, Sam Houston and Stephen Austin. There's two national figures and two Texans."
His work on Summitt came through the study of videos and photographs. He would take these pictures and blow them up to both life size and to the scale of the statue, which is 144 percent larger than Summitt's actual size.
"The success of a sculpture depends on the amount of data you've got," Adickes said.
Adickes, having never met Summitt except through a Skype talk once and on television, had to speculate over aspects of her person, like the back of her head.
Ideally, he would have liked to depict Summitt in a jumping motion from the photos he saw, but the commission was for a single, standing figure. Originally, the statue was wanted life size, but Adickes argued it would look diminished in an outside environment.
It took three to four months for the full process to create the 8-feet, 7-inch figure weighing 500 pounds.
After modeling her out of clay, Adickes sent it to a foundry where it was then constructed out of wax and painted with acid for the patina sheen.
Adickes bought his old high school, which was constructed in 1931, after hearing it was to be torn down. Now, he has turned it into his personal museum. It is 80,000 square feet and three stories.
Open by appointment only from a lack of high traffic where he lives, it houses both his paintings and sculptures.
"When I heard that, I thought, 'They cannot do that.' That's a historic building," Adickes said. "That's where we learned to jitterbug."
At 86, Adickes does not plan on slowing down. Next, he intends to construct a 34 foot statue of Charlie Chaplin.
He's built a new building as a sculpture studio, and in front of it he plans to place the Chaplin piece and show free screenings of old Chaplin films to the community.
"[Chaplin] started his career exactly 100 years ago, 1913," Adickes said. "The kids today, they don't know that period. I just think that Chaplin was a genius. To not know who he is, I think that's a shame."
For his recreation of Summitt, Adickes worked to make her figure appear like her on the court. Leaning back with her arms crossed, he believes he created the basketball legend's iconic stance.
"Well, I just want to get the right pose for her and the right attitude," Adickes said. "It's a pose of, I would say, triumph. It's not a sad thing at all, I can tell you that. She looks like she won."