Daniel Norris is 21 years old. He lives in a $10,000 1978 VW Westfalia camper van (named "Shaggy") behind a Walmart in Florida. He shaves with an axe and cooks his meals on a camp stove.
He's also a millionaire with a 92-m.p.h. fastball. Norris, you see, received a $2 million bonus for signing with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, and he's currently the team's number one prospect, in line for a spot in its starting rotation.
Norris's unusual lifestyle has received extensive press as baseball season approaches: ESPN the Magazine wrote a thorough exploration of his day-to-day life, which includes surfing, writing in a "thought journal," reading Jack Kerouac and doing resistance workouts on abandoned grocery carts. He lives this way, he says, to escape the pressure built up around his rising fame.
"It's like a yin-and-yang thing for me," he told ESPN. "I'm not going to change who I am just because people think it's weird. The only way I'm going to have a great season is by starting out happy and balanced and continuing to be me. It might be unconventional, but to feel good about life I need to have some adventure."
Norris, who, among his other quirks, says he's never tasted alcohol, is a curiosity in the flashy world of professional athletes. But the consensus seems to be that if it works, it works.
"He takes care of himself as well as anybody we've got," Tony LaCava, Toronto's assistant general manager, told ESPN. "He's in great shape. He competes on the mound. If that wasn't the case, maybe we'd be more worried about some of the other stuff. But right now, the van and all that is secondary. He has great values, and they're working for him."
Norris asked financial advisors to deposit his bonus in various investments where he wouldn't have to keep track of it. He gets $800 per month deposited in his checking account. "I'm actually more comfortable being kind of poor," he says.
Norris frequently uses Matthew McConaughey's mantra, "Just keep living," as a hashtag for his posts on Instagram and Twitter. A sampling of thoughts from his journal reads as follows:
"Research the things you love."
"Gain knowledge. It's valuable."
"Be kind. Be courteous. Love others and be happy. It's that simple."
For Norris, it certainly appears that way.
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