Shake Milton: How unique nickname became permanent for the Sixers' guard


Before we tell the story of one of the greatest names in Sixers history, we’ve got to go back a little ways, long before Shake Milton was born.

As Lisa Milton, Shake’s mother, tells it, her late husband, Myron, was a late bloomer, but when he grew, he grew quick.

So quick, in fact, that, "The kids were like, 'You must've been drinking a lot of milk!'" as Lisa remembers.

And when Myron played college basketball at Texas A&M, the nickname stuck, and "Milk Man" lived on.

And Milk LOVED nicknames.

When Lisa was 27 years old, she was pregnant with her first son, Malik.

As Lisa remembers, one of her friends touched her pregnant belly and said, "How is little Shake doing?"

"What?" Lisa remembers.

"You know … little ‘Milk-Shake.’"

And it was over from there.

Lisa, knowing how much her husband loved nicknames, knew immediately the nickname would stick.

“Even when we registered him in school, my husband was like, 'they need to call him Shake,' and that's what they did.”

And by pre-Kindergarten, Milk made sure everyone knew his son as Shake.

“I love it. I really love it,” Shake said. “No one calls me Malik. ... Even before I was born, they called me Shake. I’ve been Shake my whole life.”

So, it wasn’t a huge surprise to Shake that teammates and coaches didn’t know that Shake wasn’t actually his real name.

Most of his teammates found out a couple of months ago over a farm-to-table dinner at Traders Point Creamery in Indiana, when they got to talking about their names.

“We were out to dinner and we brought it up and he said it wasn’t,” Tobias Harris said. “It’s a cool story behind it, pretty dope.”

“I always thought that was his real name!” Mike Scott said of Shake. “That’s what’s great about the team outings, is you get to find stuff out about your teammates.”

(Sidenote: Did you know Mike isn’t Mike’s first name? Mike told his teammates at this same dinner that his first name is actually James, but he never liked it, so he doesn’t go by it).

“We were together for two years and I didn’t know,” Furkan Korkmaz laughed. “But it’s his fault, not my fault.”

“I think Shake also didn’t know, he had a name.” (Korkmaz with the jokes!)

And then there’s those to whom I had to break the news …

“I never even knew that,” Brett Brown laughed.

“He’ll always be Shake to me." 

Basketball runs deep in the Milton household.

“As soon as Shake could walk and hold a ball, he (Myron) would take Shake to practices with him,” Lisa says of her late husband, who also coached AAU. “He had this little three-year-old out there, dribbling in the corner, with his dad coaching.”

Lisa remembers when Myron would put goggles on Shake and make him dribble, or practice with kids that were 4-5 years older than him.

“Those were good times …”

In 2012, Shake’s father passed away suddenly at age 43, when his first-born was just a freshman at Owasso High School in Oklahoma. Myron had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood effectively.

“It was rough … I think I was in shock for six months, and I can't imagine as a child [losing your father],” Lisa says.

“He taught me how to be a man and taught me how to work for everything,” Shake says of his father.

“And on the court, just go out there and play like you’re the best player on the floor, and every time you do that, you put yourself in the best position to be successful.”

Milton has exceeded expectations, since assuming the starting point guard role in Ben Simmons’ absence, averaging 15.3 points per game (on 60.7 percent shooting) and 4.6 assists over the past three games.

“At this stage, if everybody is looking for a tournament, he’s winning it,” Brown said of the competition at point guard. “He’s the starting point guard.”

“He would have the biggest chest,” Shake’s mom says of how proud Myron would be of Shake. “He would be so proud, I'm telling you. It's almost hard for me to think about because … gosh, I wish he could be here, to actually see him. He would be super proud.”

Photos courtesy of Lisa Milton. 

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