As vivid an imagination as he’s always had, as eager as he’s been to try just about anything, Andrew Carber admits he never could’ve seen this coming.
Then again, the kid from Ambler, Pa. who played three sports at Upper Dublin High a decade ago, has never gone the conventional route. “His story in 27 short years goes beyond words,” laughed his mother, Maggie, a retired former elementary school language teacher, now living with her husband, Bob, in Pawley’s Island, SC. “It’s just ridiculous.”
“Andrew has always been my child who did things outside the box. He’s always been very creative and business savvy. He just knows how to make things click.”
Yet not even this 6’ 9” hulk whose brief pitching career in the Boston Red Sox’ organization had fizzled out… whose hopes of a golf career hadn’t materialized… and who’d finally moved basketball from the back burner towards the front could have possibly fantasized this: that one day he’d be hobnobbing on a movie set in Mallorca, Spain with Adam Sandler.
That’s where they were filming “Hustle,” Sandler’s story about a Philadelphia 76ers’ scout who discovers a potential prospect named Bo Cruz while in Europe and tries – unsuccessfully – to convince his skeptical boss to draft him. The part of Cruz was played by Juancho Hernangomez, a veteran of six NBA teams since 2016. But since they needed someone to fill in for him as a body double, that’s where Carber fit in.
It all started a couple of years ago while the pandemic was beginning to wind down and Carber was playing pickup ball at the Sixers’ G League training facility in Wilmington, DE. Andrew picks up the story there.
“One morning a guy chases me down the hall and introduces himself as being with the Sixers’ G League team,” said Carber, who averaged nearly 18 points his senior year at Upper Dublin, but never really pursued basketball after that. “His first line is ‘Would you want to be in a movie with Adam Sandler and Queen Latifah?’
“I thought he was trying to sell me something.”
After finding out what it entailed and what “Hustle” was all about, Carber decided to buy. “I had never heard of the movie and didn’t know they were filming in Philadelphia at the time,” said Carber, who splits his time between Glen Mills, Delaware County and Charleston, SC. “I met with the Happy Madison team (Sandler’s Production Company) and Spring Hill Entertainment (Lebron James’ company, which produced the film).
“They said ‘Yes, he looks like Juancho. He can dunk and shoot.’ They gave me the role. They said ‘Congratulations. you’re Bo Cruz’ stunt double.’
“The next thing I know I’m on a first-class flight to Spain to film a movie with Adam Sandler and Kenny Smith. The week before Juancho had dislocated his shoulder playing for the Spanish national team and could barely pick up a glass to drink, let alone shoot a ball.
“They flew me to Spain where I spent 2 ½ weeks filming over there. I got to meet Adam Sandler for the first time and from that point wound up spending every day on set with him for 2 ½ months, which was pretty surreal.
Things have been busy for Carber ever since. He’s done another movie, “Fantasy Football,” as a stunt receiver and backup quarterback which was filmed in Atlanta. He’s done some script writing and helped direct a “gift of the game” commercial for Under Armor. And recently he’s gone back to his first love, golf, hoping to compete in the World Long Drive Tour.
In the process, he’s learned some valuable lessons. First, how fleeting success can be, but also, not to let whatever success you achieve change who you are.
“The difference between me and you and Queen Latifah and Adam Sandler is literally nothing other than they had the courage to pursue what they love,” said Carber, who also got to know Jalil White (best known as Urkel) during production. “They wake up every day thinking about their craft and how to either better themselves or create value for the world through another movie or standup comedy session.
“You’d never know what their bank account figures would be. They just want to be treated like regular people.
“The most important thing it’s given me is perspective learning how humble these individuals are, so if I ever do get to that point of status they have, I have a blueprint for how to act around people.”
Maybe that’s why Andrew would come around to Upper Dublin periodically to encourage the guys on Ed Wall’s baseball team. “He came in and spoke with our high school guys,” said Wall, UD’s longtime coach, who still wonders what the season might have been had Andrew decided to skip baseball to concentrate on hoops and golf. “Andrew’s always been the nicest guy in the room.
“Working with Sandler I congratulate him. It’s definitely an exciting lifestyle he’s been able to create and take advantage of. Love the kid.”
To appreciate how far Andrew Carber, or Daddy Carbs as some call him, has come, it helps to understand how he got there. You’d think being the son of 6’ 7” Bob Carver, who played with longtime Iowa coach Fran McCaffery at LaSalle High, then briefly for Pete Carril at Princeton before becoming a dentist, basketball would be his first love.
Nope. “He’s a golf guy and loves baseball too,” said Maggie, herself a 5-11 basketball player from Wilmington, DE. “Basketball was never a passion sport.”
So, after graduating in 2013, Carber elected to go to Clemson where he hoped to play on the golf team. Just one problem. They didn’t accept walk-ons.
“My heart was set on golf at the time,” said Carber, who played locally mostly at LuLu Country Club, where a few years back he got tips while caddying for Hall of Famer Gary Player. “Unfortunately Clemson doesn’t take walk-ons so my dream of playing there got derailed.
That led to Carber changing course and turning his focus back to baseball. He transferred from Clemson first to Harford Community College in Bel Air, MD, then to baseball haven Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fl. near the Panhandle, which has produced future major leaguers, Jose Bautista, Adam Duvall, and Patrick Corbin among others over the years.
“They were the number one ranked JC in the country,” revealed Carber, who would go on to help Chipola win a national championship while developing his skills enough to eventually become a 2017 Red Sox’ 30th-round draft choice. “I had always wanted to play baseball growing up.
“I was inspired by those Phillies teams with Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. I met Hamels at Maple Zone Sports Institute (in Aston, PA.). Sometimes we trained together, and I used to pick his brain.”
For whatever reason Carber’s time with the Red Sox didn’t last for long. By 2018 he’d been released, which he feels was as much due to improper training techniques as lack of performance. “I was 21 at the time and they tried to change me a little bit as far as mechanics go,” said Carber, whose teammates at the time included current Sox Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford. “I really needed someone who could give me tutelage on how to properly use my legs.
“Everyone had their own two cents what would be the right answer. I had so many different mechanical changes in my mind at the time I didn’t know who I was as a pitcher anymore and what had gotten me there. I tweaked my elbow because they tried to change me and make me an over-the-top guy instead of an arm slot guy.”
A bit dismayed, Carber took some time off to re-energize before heading back to the fray in 2019. “I got picked up by some independent teams,” he said, referring to his time with the Westside Wooly Mammoths and Utica Unicorns in the United Shore League, followed by the Atlantic League’s York Revolution. “In the Atlantic League we were actually part of the inaugural rule changes—the lab rats for Major League testing grounds.
“We were the first ones to test the time clock, the bigger bases, the robot umpires. I got an early glimpse of what it would do to baseball.”
Physically and mentally healthy and throwing harder than ever, Carber was thinking of playing for a team in Detroit when the pandemic ground everything to a halt in March 2020. Over the ensuing year to stay in shape, Carber would make the 90-minute trek from his home in Blue Bell to Wilmington, where he would often go against players like Villanova NCAA championship game hero, Kris Jenkins, and former NBA players Ronde Hollis-Jefferson, Jason Thompson, among others.
He did well enough to reach the point where he was seriously considering heading overseas to play in Germany when the man from the Sixers’ G League team approached him that fateful July 2021 day. “He told me they were looking for a 6’ 9” highly skilled ballplayer, 225 pounds, Caucasian,” recalled Carber, who was skeptical at first that he’d simply be an extra before learning more details. “The next thing I know I was sending videos of me dunking and shooting to Happy Madison and the directors and the casting team of Netflix.
“Then I heard back from Mike Fisher, the guy in the sports film industry, who’s done “Remember the Titans,” “The Longest Yard,” “Blindside,” and “Moneyball.”
Before he knew it an “acting” career was born, where the money keeps coming in for the man who’s become somewhat of an expert in investing. “I’m entitled to residuals,” revealed Andrew. “I get paid for my work up front and I’ve been grandfathered into the SAG union.
“I never did anything like this before in my life. I used to do school plays growing up but had no real aspirations to get into entertainment. Doing ‘Hustle’ I learned the perks of show business. Every time the movie’s streamed I get a cut of the steaming revenue.”
Now, even though the writers’ strike has temporarily slowed things down, Andrew Carber has some projects in the works, including possibly being a stunt doubling for the Kurt Rambis character in HBO’s “Winning Time” series about the 1980s Lakers. The kid from Ambler, who never let a detour prevent him from making the next trip around the corner turn out even more worthwhile, would be the first to tell you to never say never and always pursue your dreams.
His story is reminiscent of a different Hollywood movie: the one where the cop who wins the lottery shares his winnings with the waitress after he forgets to leave her a tip.
They called that one – as Andrew Carber could certainly relate – “It Could Happen to You.”