Della Donne is Done

BY Tay Holloway

The new WNBA season is coming up fast and the draft will be here even faster. The league made some waves this past week just before the free agency period opened. The former number two overall pick and league MVP Elena Della Donne, is who my personal favorite player in the league, stated that she didn’t want to play for the Chicago Sky anymore because of the direction the team was going in and she wanted to be traded. The Sky had leverage because she is a restricted free agent and if any team was to sign her to a offer sheet they could match it.

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Elene had another plan to fight that, because she told the team that she was willing to sit out this season, if that happened, to wait until she became a unrestricted free agent to play somewhere else. The team put her on the market and she was traded to the Washington Mystics. I cant say this is a better team to be on but this team is rebuilding and might have a chance with Della Donne on the team to make it into the playoffs this season.  They do have a electric point guard in Ivory Latta the former UNC star who is still very serviceable, but I believe they will need more wing help to give them a chance to make it to the finals.

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They finished 18-16 last season and was knocked out of the playoffs.  This season they have to make a push over the Atlanta Dream – who should be healthy this year – but free agency is not over and the draft will give them some help, so the chips are not set yet and that’s the reason why the games are played, to see how thing will go. I do wish her the best with her new team and I am hoping that she does great because I think she is the best player in league and deserves a chance at winning a championship.

It’s All About Dwight Howard!

By: Damian Adams

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Next season, Dwight Howard will not be wearing the Houston Rockets uniform, he has signed a 3 year, 70.5-million-dollar contract with the Atlanta Hawks. Howard averaged 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game last season. Any center who averages these numbers while only getting 8.5 shot attempts per game would usually be a sought after asset for fans of most teams, but not Dwight. Most fans would respond to that statement by saying phrases like; we don’t need this BUM, I don’t want this SOFT dude on my squad, why would we sign him, dude is pure TRASH. Why are adjectives like bum, soft, and trash used to describe Dwight Howard? When and why did Dwight become the NBA fan’s punching bag?

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Howard was the #1 overall pick out of high school in the 2004 NBA draft to the Orlando Magic. A center with a goofy personality going #1 overall to Orlando of course brought up natural comparisons to Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal is a hall of fame inductee, who is arguably the most dominant player of all time.  Dwight started his career with an uphill battle, with people expecting him to be the next Shaq. Howard did not fold under the expectations, becoming a great player of his 3rd year in the league. He led the Magic in the playoffs while averaging 17.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks per game and shot 60% from the field. Howard continued to get better on both sides of the floor, being a consistent 1st option on offense and dominating on defense. The Orlando Magic found themselves in the NBA finals in Howard’s 5th NBA season. Not many players can say they led a team to the NBA finals, let alone by their 5th season in the league. During the 08-09 season NBA finals season Howard averaged 20.6 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game and shot 57% from the field. He won Defensive Player of the Year, and finished in the top 5 of the Most Valuable Player Award. Also, Dwight and the Magic beat LeBron and the Cavaliers to get to the NBA finals that year. The Magic lost to the Lakers in the finals. Even though his team fell just short of the ultimate goal, the world was now aware of the force Dwight Howard was. Howard continued to play well on both sides of the ball finishing in the top 5 in MVP voting 4 times and winning 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards.

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Dwight had become a top 5 NBA player and a top 10 defensive player all time. Despite his individual success the Magic would not get back to the NBA finals. This may have caused some issues between him and coach Stan Van Gundy. Their relationship seemed to be strained and this led to the moment where I believe the NBA world turn on Dwight Howard.

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The look on Stan’s face says it all. Stan believed that Dwight went to upper management asking them to fire him. Right after he said that Dwight came in trying to be affectionate. It looked disingenuous to say the least. Things went downhill from there both Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard ended up leaving Orlando. Howard left via a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. An elite big man going from Orlando to LA, sounds familiar, Dwight just could not avoid the Shaq comparison.

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Dwight Howard only spent one season in LA. A season that most Lakers fans want to forget. It was actually the last season the Lakers were competitively relevant. Howard played most of that season with multiple injuries. He was not the only one battling injuries as Steve Nash’s body broke down and Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon late in the season. Even with all those issues the blame fell on Howard as he averaged 17.1 points, 12. 4 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game, Dwight led the league in rebounds that season. Howard moved on to Houston that off-season.

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For the last three seasons, he has helped get the Houston Rockets to the playoffs. The Rockets made it to the Western Conference Finals during the 2014-15 season. Dwight played great during the playoffs, averaging 16.4 points, 14 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. This past season his frustration grew with his lack of touches on offense and now he is moving on to Atlanta.

The title of this article is time for a change. I choose that title because I believe this change of scenery will be good for Howard. In the Atlanta Hawks system, I believe he can get back to being an all-star caliber player.  I also believe it is time for us to change the way we look at or judge Dwight Howard. We have held him to the standards of 90’s post up centers, in particular Shaq, when that style of play is no longer considered efficient. Howard will never be an offensive force like Shaq, but he is a better defensive player and rebounder than Shaq was. Dwight has led the league in rebounds per game 5 times, and blocks per game 2 times. Shaq did not accomplish either feat once during his career. Don’t get me wrong Shaq is the better player, but these facts should be pointed out. Dwight Howard is a future 1st ballad hall of famer and basketball fans should appreciate Dwight for Dwight.

 

 

 

Carmelo, Curt, and Isaiah: Three Wise Men?

By Will Stevenson

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What a summer we’ve had in sports right? LeBron leads the Cavs back to beat the Warriors, Free Agency starts off with Timofey Mozgov and then…. Durant joins the Warriors and Dwayne Wade leaves South Beach to join his hometown Chicago Bulls. Ben Simmons is showing off his passing vision in Summer League, along with Buddy Hield putting on great shooting performances. Tim Duncan retired. Portugal won the Euro Cup. NFL training camps are gearing up for the upcoming season. Giancarlo Stanton put on a show at the Home Run Derby last night. And Lance Stephenson is still a free agent. I’ve been scouring the internet for the past few weeks, looking at social media websites, posts, comments, shares, videos and interviews; but nothing have taken my interest in the sports world like Carmelo Anthony.

 

Now the way our minds work, words and phrases have certain attachments to them: Head Coach, Black Coach, Domestic Violence, Franchise Quarterback, Dan Snyder, America’s Team, Defense Wins Championships, Playoffs!!, NFL Substance Abuse Policy, The Baseball Steroid Era, etc. If your mind works the way most do, an image/feeling/thought/reservation came to your mind for each word or phrase. It is necessary to address our schemas we have for athletes, because it directly affects how we interface with them and/or about them. When I say “Carmelo Anthony”, what are the things that would come to mind? When we think of NBA Stars, many things come to the forefront; Overpaid, lack of community, greedy, hardworking, winner, selfish, spotlight, privileged, famous, red carpet, rich. It’s ok, for now. It’s alright if these emotions arise in you when you speak of an athlete, but also remember they are human as we are. When Carmelo Anthony made his post on Instagram in solidarity of the citizens murdered by police and police murdered by citizens, this wasn’t his first time standing for the cause against police shootings.

 

Before we dive into his post, why don’t we discuss the athlete’s role in speaking out on police shootings. Notice there wasn’t a mention of speaking against the act or defending the police, the only thing needed to do is converse. Do we want our athletes involved in such matters? We seem to be reluctant at the notion a multi-millionaire basketball player would speak of injustice, because, well, they are rich, and we are not. We are reluctant to care whether they have an opinion on the matter because we just want to know if they are winners enough on the court as if that would validate their personal life and beliefs. You may think that is not accurate, but we are funny that way. For reasons that are plentiful, we hold their million-dollar contracts against them as if somehow having money disqualifies an individual from speaking out about injustices in our communities. That would be as absurd as the unemployed and homeless condemning us fans for the money we make.

 

The most disconnect can be traced to the simple fact that athletes have coined a skill and have profited from that skill. Athletes are just as we are, the difference is their market is paying them much more, and that is exclusive to professional sports. There may be some who read this that make more money than a practice squad player, or Russell Wilson before his contract, and I would assume that your income does not disqualify you from being involved in your community as well as speaking out on issues in this world.

 

In a world of internet activists and cyber-bullies, it’s fairly easy to tell when people are real with what they post versus trolling. Social Media has become the gathering waterhole for keyboard gangsters worldwide. With that being said, it has created an avenue for athletes to reach fans with a click of a button. I did the pleasure of reading some of the responses to Carmelo Anthony’s post and as you would imagine, the hate vs the truth was out in full force. When it comes to athletes speaking on such issues as these, we bring our own thoughts and emotions to the table. We also have our own thoughts about who they are or who we think they are, so it skews our ability to look at them as human, and objectively. We can literally go through our timelines right now and come to an agreement that we do not agree on police brutality and their treatment of humans. It’s a subject in which people choose sides, draw lines, and defend their point until death. Carmelo’s post was targeting players like himself to use their platform to evoke change in this broken system. From my end, Carmelo sounds like many of us in this world; We know the system is broken, we know they didn’t change its own their own, but just because that is so we should not sit on our hands and continue the same process we’ve been doing since the 60s. There are things that are not working for us so we have to go back to the drawing board to see what will. Remember when the police were outraged at the former St. Louis Rams for their protest? Well, the Minnesota Lynx wore shirts as well. Some police, as well as fans were outraged at the team for wearing them and left the game. More and more athletes are posting solidarity posts like Melo’s post.

 

So what do we want? Do we want our athletes to just entertain us? Do we not want them to speak? Do we want them to be reprimanded for their “free speech”? If that was the case, we would be up for review from our own personal posts on Sports Elite, Facebook, Instagram and so on. We want our athletes to speak, but only if it is in alignment with what we believe is truth. Carmelo never said he had an answer, but just because you don’t have an answer does not mean collaboration with others can’t develop a few ideas. He wants to do something, and he wants his other comrades to join in to do the same. It sounds like a positive thing to do…

 

The one consequence of outspoken athletes is Curt Schilling, Isaiah Crowell, or any other athlete that will say or post something that we may not agree with. Every free speech has a consequence and for our athletes, that can come at a steep price. Carmelo’s post was praised, but Isaiah Crowell’s was not. Even with Crowell’s post of an officer being killed by a civilian, the responses to that post were… Usual. Nothing more usual than the Police Dept. threatening him to donate to the Dallas PD or they would pull their security from the stadium. Police are humans too, they have feelings, but we didn’t see them lament after the Tamir Rice shooting. This is what happens when our athletes give their opinions, although rash at times with the instant access of social media, we respond with praise, doubt and hatred. It will always be complicated to speak out on such issues, because they never know how it will be taken. With every glaring issue, each issue has a group that has taken a stand, and it leaves little wiggle room. There’s no way to be praised by all when taking a stand for a political issue, for you are bound to upset someone, but in the case of Carmelo Anthony, he decided once again to put himself out there for us all to see.

 

Unless you only associate Carmelo Anthony with losing and being selfish.

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2016 Lakers: Boyz II Men or The Five Heartbeats

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By Will Stevenson

Four brothers, brought together for one cause and not by choice. Almost every young man who touches a basketball or laces up their shoes dreams of becoming the man. As it was eloquently put, “Some *&^%%$@ want to be the man, just cause”, and in lament terms; some people want to be the man, just because the opportunity has revealed itself. For some people, working together to satisfy a specific goal is the ultimate team concept, but for the Los Angeles Lakers, taking on that concept would be an hypocritical stance that will be a hard one to get through.

For the past two years, possibly four, the Lakers have shown them that winning at all costs isn’t always the main objective.  After the passing of Dr. Buss and the Kobe/Dwight/Nash debacle that ended with Kobe tearing his achilles tendon and Dwight’s lingering shoulder, we all realized something that summer; Nobody wants to play with Kobe and his aging. The Lakers whiffed on every possible big named free agent; Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Lamarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love and etc. We can blame Lil Buss, or Jeanie Buss, or Phil Jackson’s departure, or the Kobe Lifetime contract, or style of play, or the fact that Kobe was not relinquishing his title on this team. And that’s what we will address today.

Kobe’s gone, now what? Byron Scott is gone, now what? Jordan Clarkson, DeAngelo aka first guy to get snuffed on The Wire for snitching Russell, and Julius Randle have been patiently waiting for this moment: Kobe has retired and now it’s my turn to be the man. With the drafting of Brandon Ingram out of Duke with the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft, something funny happened and it all started with a quote from Ingram, “I want to bring leadership and professionalism to this team”. I know Lakers fans are like YES, finally, someone to step in and take us to where we need to be. But with those words, he may have started something that will be tough to overcome.

Remember when Lebron was drafted, and Ricky Davis still considered himself to be the man on the team after averaging 20ppg the season before that was capped by dunking over Steve Nash? He was traded very quickly thereafter. This is what this is, but different. Ingram is 18/19, fresh out of college and a lottery pick. He’s eager to be the face of the franchise because, well, it’s finally open with the departure of Kobe. I mean, who doesn’t want to be king? But in stepping into those shoes, he may have stepped on those he will need to accomplish the winning.

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My Life With Sports

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If I didn’t have sports in my life I don’t know what I would do. When I was a kid, I lived in not so great neighborhood. I was a very active as a kid always playing outside. My very first sport I played was soccer for the YMCA. I used to play goalie most of the time. I decided to quit because I got tired of people kicking me. After that I played softball forever, it seemed like. When I got older I added basketball and volleyball as well. There were times I had to go from indoor softball practice to go to basketball practice or, leave a volleyball game to go to a softball game. I stayed busy playing sports all the way up to high school.

Sports was bonding time for me and my family. My mom taught me everything I know about sports. She taught me all the rules to baseball, basketball and football. She practiced catch with me, made sure my form to shoot, throw or swing was perfect. She took me to my very first St. Louis Cardinals and Rams game. Now that I am an adult we still will watch a game or talk about sports. This year I was lucky enough to join my mom to Jupiter, FL. There we went to go see the Cardinals Spring Training game. She has never been to one, so this trip was even more memorable not just because I was with her, but, because I was there to see how much she enjoyed the games.

I also bonded with my grandparents through sports. When I was a kid, my grandparents were season ticket holders for Southwest Missouri State (now it is called Missouri State) basketball games men and women. I used to go with them all the time to games and we went to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. My grandparents would also take me to Southwest Missouri St football games too. My grandparents and I could sit there and talk sports for hours. My grandma loved Peyton Manning so, of course, his name would be thrown into the conversation. I can still hear my grandpa telling me that Phillip Rivers was a cry baby. I used to laugh when he would talk bad about players. They were also very interested in how my teams were doing.

Lastly, I don’t know if I would have met fiancé without sports. We met each other during the 2011 NBA Championship round. This is when the Dallas Mavs was playing the Miami Heat. My fiancé took me to my first Dallas Cowboys game. I took him to his first MLB game. He taught me to play fantasy football. We can talk about sports all day if you allow us. We both have that competitive nature because we used to play sports when we are younger. When one of my teams plays his there is a lot of trash talk going on in our house.

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In conclusion, sports has helped me build and keep relationships my whole life. Sports has also taught me never to give up. Just because you may get knocked down doesn’t mean you failed, it means next time come back even better than you did before.

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My Journey Part 2

By Tay Holloway

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As a child, I split my time between the two homes of my mom and dad. They were not the model parents, but I can say they did the best that they could do. I was very lucky to have their parents in my life and very active. When I was in middle school, I lived with my paternal grandparents. Life was a little bit more stable for me, especially to play sports. I played on the middle school basketball team. This was the first time that I had to try out for anything. Ms. Oden was the Physical Education teacher and the coach. She was so hard on me and I didn’t understand why. I went home and complained about her, because I figured she just didn’t like me or wanted me to quit trying to make the team. My mom and dad told me not to quit and suck it up so I did. I made the team, Yes!!!

I was the first 6th grader on the team in years. The practice was mostly about getting in shape and doing fundamental drills. The other girls on the team were not nice. They didn’t make the team until 7th or 8th grade year, so of course they were haters. I didn’t care because I wanted to show them all that I could play some ball. I thought we never were going to play a game until that day came and coach said “GAME DAY!” We played Thompson Middle School on their home court. When I got to that school it seemed like those girls were huge. I felt like they were eating something that I did not eat. During warm ups coach told me I was going to come off the bench, it hurt me because I have always been a starter. When the game was being played those girls was killing us. We could not break their 3-2 half court trap. At this young age, I know how to break it because my dad taught me these basic things. I watched our point guard get to the half court each time and dribbles to the right and use the sideline and half court line as another defender and get herself trapped. I wanted to play so bad, but the coach didn’t let me.  It was just about to be halftime and coach told me to go in the game. I froze up and told her I had to pee. She threw me in the game and nobody would throw me the ball. After halftime, coach told me I was going to start at the point guard. I was cool with it, but nervous because I knew what was going to happen. They were going to run that same 3-2 half court trap. I looked at my dad and his friends in the stands and he yelled out, “Use your passing” and that’s exactly what I did. I used to pass to get out of the half-court trap to set up our offense. I admit, I did play hero ball to get us back into the game. The girl who was guarding me did not have the defense to handle me, so yes I took her to the rim every time.

They would foul me, but I’m used to playing street ball and grown men pushing me around. When they would push me around it felt like child’s play, so of course I got mad when I didn’t get the and one. We ended up winning that game, but we lost all the rest of that season. My coach told me she wanted me to play during the summer and that’s when she told my dad about AAU basketball. I went out for the capitol city rage that summer in the 11-year-old age group. I made the B team and that did not sit well with me or my dad. He knew I was better. After my dad would get home from work, instead of hustling basketball games he would work with me on my weakness which was defense and my three-point shooting. They say hard work pays off because a few games into the AAU season, I was moved to the A team. I came off the bench as the 6th man. After an unfortunate injury to our starting two guard, I was inserted into that spot and I refused to get that spot taken from me.

We traveled across the country playing different teams and in different tournaments. I remember the first time I met Pat Summit; I was in a tournament in Kansas. She sat right behind our bench and watched our entire game. Her facial expression never changed, so you didn’t know if she liked how you played or not. After the game she shook our hands and said maybe one day we can play for her. I took that as an open invite that one day I could play for her because she had the top college team at that time period.

Let’s fast forward to 7th grade year, I was the starting two guard this year because the coach decided to let my good friend Porsha Brown play the point guard. She had the weirdest shot; kind of like Shawn Marion but it went in especially from the three-point line. She and I got along well and we fed off each other. We wanted nothing more than to win a championship. That season we went all the way to the Championship game and lost. I was devastated because I wanted to win that game so bad. It hurt me because you play the game to win championships. I was voted MVP of the team after leading us in scoring with an average of 23.9 ppg and 7.2 rpg. That’s pretty good for a kid who was not even 5 feet tall at the time and was not even 100 lbs. That summer, my dad and got me and Porsha to play together on the AAU basketball team with a lady by the name of Gean Adkins. She was the head coach of Henrico High School at the time. Her program was very popular and she didn’t take it easy on anyone. If you made her AAU team, then you had to have skills because she played a twelve-man rotation and everyone could play from the one of the five., We both made her team, but we didn’t start because this dunking female Phenom by the name of Natasha Starks and Brandy Byrd started and when I tell you those girls could play. I watched them like wow. They had the best game from women I have seen in a while. They could even finish the fast break with a dunk. That was before Brittney Griner and Lisa Leslie did it. They were already being recruited by Tennessee and UConn. I felt like it was an honor to back them up across the country in the games.

Let’s fast forward to 8th grade year, I switched the to the point guard this year and Porsha was the two guard. We had the help of a female this year named Kashera Pleasant. She was like a Dennis Rodman in the paint. She was not that tall, but she had an instinct for rebounds and was not afraid to put it back up for the easy two points. We went undefeated in the middle school season. We had our names all over the newspaper. We played the championship game at the Arthur Ashe Center, which was a big stage at that time. We played against Samara Rashid, a fellow AAU teammate and an awesome friend. She led her team in scoring, assist, rebounds and steals. I knew her game and I wanted to guard her the entire game. It was like AAU practice, but with more on the line. I held her to a whopping 10 points that game and she fouled out. Porsha and I combined for a total of 83 points and we won the championship. It felt good to be a winner and to earn that ring. My dad told me after the game, I had to get my heart broken before I could appreciate success. He was right, but it didn’t stop there, I knew it was time to play with the big girls which was High School basketball.

TOO BE CONTINUED

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My Journey Part 1

By Tay Holloway

 

I was born March 15th in Richmond, Virginia to Pam and Reginald. I got stuck coming out the womb. I came into the world a fighter. As I grew older, I was always with my dad and his friends. My earliest memory is when I was about four years old. My dad would take me to basketball courts around the city and let me watch him play. He would always have his friends Moon and Monroe on his team and they would play other guys for money. I watched all the moves of all the players on the court especially my dad. They played hard and it was no soft stuff on the court. A few of the men would even shed blood. When the game was over, I would grab my ball and try to do what I saw the guys do on the court. I was young but I wanted my chance to play with them. When my dad didn’t have a game, he would take me to the court and we would work on basic fundamentals of the game like my footwork and using both of my hands. I loved every moment of it because it was time with my dad. While we would practice, he would always tell me,” NO CRYING ON THE COURT OR YOU NOT PLAYING NO MORE.”

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That line always stuck in my head so no matter how much it hurt or how hard he pushed me making contact with me, I would never cry because I was positive he was not going to let me play ever again. When I turned five, my dad signed me up for basketball at the recreation center. I was scared and didn’t know anyone on the team. He laced up my shoes and told me to do what he showed me. I remember everything but I got stage fright. It was so many people in the gym screaming and cheering. The first play of the game a kid knocked me over and I thought I was going to die, but I heard my dad voice in my head saying,” NO CRYING ON THE COURT OR YOU NOT PLAYING NO MORE.” I got, brushed myself off and started to play like I knew how. I was very aggressive because that’s what I learned. I played like a kid older than five. It was so bad that the coach wanted me to play with the older kids because I was being a bully on the court. My mom didn’t want me to but my dad was all for it. I played with kids six to seven and the something happened. I was very aggressive and had my way all over the court. I was no longer she and wanted more.

That fall, my dad signed me up for football. I was like ok why am I playing this, I never played before. He told me I would like it just don’t be soft. My first practice, I got hit so hard by some boy, but after that first hit I was ready. I was trying to take off everyone head that came my way. My dad and his friends found it funny when I would truck someone or tackle someone because it made the dads of the boys upset. There were other girls on the team, but it was not one like me who could actually play and not just be on the line. I played running back, wide receiver on offense and defense, I played safety or middle linebacker which was my favorite. A play I will never forget was in the playoffs, we were going against glen lea and we were down by 3. I was at running back on 3rd down and we needed this first down bad. I got the handoff and I saw an open lane right up the gut. I took it and then all of a sudden a defender was in my face. That is the first time I can remember being really trucked someone to the point where the boy cried on the field. My dad and his friends were on the sideline hyped we won that game, but I’ll never forget the look on that kid’s face. I took his manhood that day I know for sure.

TOO BE CONTINUED

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