A new train of thought

Most think of Marv Marinovich as a sports dad train wreck, but he's rewriting himself

Updated: March 25, 2010, 11:04 AM ET
By Tim Keown | ESPN The Magazine

This feature appears in the April 5, 2010 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

If the man sought a place with no past, he did well. He stands inside a trucking warehouse at the end of a potholed drive near the port of Hilo. The Hawaiian sun reflects off the windows of a gigantic cruise ship docked a few hundred yards away.

A section of the dank, windowless building has been transformed into a training center for UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn, whose local celebrity mandates a secret compound. Here, in this sport, in this warehouse, untethered by judgment and unencumbered by history, Marv Marinovich does the one thing he has always believed is his destiny: He strives to create athletic perfection.

There are Marv Marinovich stories and then there is the Marv story, which is really the Marv and Todd story, with all its ominous details -- Baby Todd teething on frozen kidney beans, hamstrings stretched in the crib, pull-ups by age 3 -- that forebode disaster, the son's promising career inexorably derailed by drug addiction and arrests.