For many high school athletes, the prep sporting scene is their only opportunity to shine on such a wide platform, thereby helping to prepare them for all the other challenges life is going to eventually force them to face. Those lessons aren’t always so cut and dry, though, which was the case for 14-year-old Jared Williams, who was paralyzed in October 2009 when another player’s helmet him in the neck while trying to make a tackle for Pinkston High School in Texas. Since then Williams has been cared for by his mother and has limited mobility thanks to his motorized wheelchair, daunting challenges for even the staunchest of single parents. In turn, Pinkston HS and Dallas ISD started a fund-raising project shortly after the injury occurred last year called “Project 24” in reference to Williams’ jersey number.
The end result of all this is a brandnew handicap-accessible home for the Williams family just in time for the holidays, a blessing that won’t soon be forgotten and even took a “Pay it Forward” turn when Jared and his mother were two of the first visitors the morning after fellow Dallas -area football player Diondre Preston of Molina HS was paralyzed earlier this season.
Now that basketball season is upon us, that doesn’t mean the good times can’t keep on rollin’, which was the case Dec. 11 when Andy Agvi of Oregon’s Woodburn HS put his 6-foot- 6, 240-pound frame to the test by shattering a glass backboard on a fast break opportunity in his team’s 62-60 loss to Putnam. As a two-time Class 5A All State selection who averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds last season, Agvi was actually the second player to complete this feat after former UCLA Bruin and current Minnesota Timberwolf Kevin Love did the same four years before, so it’s not surprising the senior tight end/defensive end has gotten some serious gridiron recruiting attention from several West Coast schools.
Regardless of the work involved, not every prep basketball accomplishment makes the highlight reel, as was the case with Chavez HS in Texas after it stopped trying to score in the second half of its 97-65 loss to Yates HS in late November. Instead, the Houstonarea school passed the ball around
and ran the clock down to try to keep Yates below 100 points even though Yates rested its starters for the fourth quarter. Making things even worse is the 170-35 shellacking Yates put on Lee HS during last year’s 34-0 undefeated season, a run that included a national-record 15 straight 100-point games. In his defense, Yates coach Greg Wise does have a point about following the same game plan regardless of the athletes on the court, which for him includes a wildly aggressive trap defense.
Sportsmanship was also the issue behind Mandarin Christian’s $142,500 fine from the Florida High School Athletic Association after 16 violations were
found stemming from illegal tuition assistance to six students, a formula that comes from fines of $2,500 per contest for each ineligible player.
As for the world of professional sports, after an eight-game stint in a Mexican league last year that saw former Boston Celtic, Dallas Maverick, Memphis Grizzly and Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker hit 6-of-27 threepoint attempts, the 6-foot-8 34-yearold is now looking to resurrect his professional basketball career in the NBA’s developmental league. I don’t know if that’s better or worse than Allen Iverson averaging around 10 points a game during the first season of a self-imposed two-year Turkish exile.
This journey certainly won’t feature too many champagne wishes or caviar dreams, though, as the D-league’s maximum salary is $25,500, setting the scene for former Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings guard Rashard McCants to donate all of this season’s compensation from the Texas Legends to the Urban Born youth and teen charity foundation.
Adversity has run amok on the gridiron, too, as Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson dropped the gamewinning touchdown pass on Nov. 28 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, causing lucky number 13 to later Tweet, “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!! I’LL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!! THX THO…”
I don’t mean to revel in other people’s misery, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one railing against the man upstairs.