My childhood was a constant struggle of up and downs, being anything but ordinary. Never meeting my father who had left my mother and I, and my mother who was my whole world, died of cancer when I was only five years old. At the age of five, with nobody willing to take me into their homes, I was put into the system and was placed in a foster home. Moving into a a overly average 5000 square foot house that was secluded from others, occupied by a married couple and a daughter a year younger than me, I began my life in the city of Benham, Kentucky where the population barely exceeded 530.
Rick, my foster dad, a retired professional basketball player, was now the varsity basketball coach for the local high school team. Since he wasn't blessed with a son, he ingrained in me the fundamentals of basketball. Teaching me how to dribble, perform a correct jump-shot, and maintaining a formidable defense. After many years of training, playing on a wide-range of teams, and traveling to many major cities for training camps,I began to sneak upon my freshman year where I attend the high school my foster dad coached.
The next year, I was a freshman, matriculating into the same high school my foster father both taught and coached at. By now I had hit my growth spurt and stood at six foot six and weighed approxiametely two hundred and ten pounds. It was prominent, as the son of the coach and hardcore training over many years, I would be playing basketball. Coaching twenty years at a perrenial losing school and obtaining two potientallly star quality players , my foster dad began to develop and new system for the varsity team. Since I wasn't going to be playing any games my freshman year, Rick put me on a rigid weight lifting program and provided me with the essential supplements for my success. Not seeing any playing time my freshman year, I focused my attention on lifting weights, and if I was not working on fundamentals in basketball, I was spending every free moment in the weight room and using the weights to help me build more muscle. Initially my weight had dropped to a low of one hundred ninety pounds, but it slowly came back. By time freshman year was ending, I was back to my normal two hundred ten pounds, but now very little fat was visible on my body. I was bigger, leaner , and much quicker after just a year of being in the program. During the summer that year, My dad had paid for me to go join a summer basketball camp at University of Kentucky. Being a former University of Kentucky student athlete graduate, my dad had many colleagues and buddies who coached or were trainers for the sports teams. There I met a old college buddy of my father, who had played basketball with him and there I began my workout. Rick already had plans that as a sophomore, I would start at the small forward position along with the other guy, Blake, the point guard, the other potential star that came into the high school with me.
By time my sophomore year rolled around, people began taking notice on me. Girls who had once never looked towards my direction, were now taking second, longer looks and often smiling at me. I walked past my foster sister, Emily, and her friends and overheard one of her friends mentioning how muscular and hot I became. As nice as it was to receive attention i had not had before, my main focus was basketball and I had to remove those thoughts from my mind. After many workouts during the next couple of months, not to much longer the winter season came around and along with it came basketball season. Not really worried about not making varsity since I made it last year, I still worked to the extreme extent just in case they got a couple of decent recruits or transfer students. Everyday after practice, I would make my way to a newly built, secluded health club called Fitness and finesse. My first day there I was shocked to see , Blake, our starting point guard, there working out by himself. Seeing as we were teammates I offered to workout with him and ever since we had been working out together both in the club's basketball court and weight room, developing good chemistry with each other.
Even though I tried to be oblivious to my surroundings if it was not related to basketball, but no matter how hard I tried I always seem my eyes always seemed to fixate themselves on Cara, one of Emily's friends, and a competitor with Emily for prettiest girl in our year. She was in all of my classes this year and although we did not talk often, she still sat beside me in some of my classes. Saying she was beautiful would be an understatement. She stood close to six foot two and was the co-captain of both the varsity basketball and varsity volleyball team. She had an amazingly fit, enticing athletic body for a modest sixteen year old. Her facial features were a sight to behold, she could have put any famous super model to shame, her golden skin smooth, her large deep cool gray eyes, and dirty blonde hair that stopped just below her shoulders.
Around this time, we were having a hardcore practice a week before our first game and then injuries began to play games with me. When I was going to collect a rebound, I landed awkwardly and later found out I had rolled my ankle. This injury put me in a ankle brace for about eight weeks, and would end my sophomore season before it even started. Since he wanted me healthy for the next year, Rick had me sit and heal for the whole year. Since my injury, I had been working out light to maintain my body build and not let any muscle turn into fat. By the end of my sophomore year I had grown to six foot eight.
Early next year, Rick stepped into my room. He wore his stern "coach" face, and I knew this would be one of his many famous coach speeches. He sat at the edge of the bed and pondered about what to say.
"Son I want you to know, in order for this team to win more games, we need you on the court and healthy. Blake can't play every team by himself he needs help from another star," he explained.
"I understand, I'll do my best," I replied.
Since my injury had healed, once again I was back on my regiment training program at the health club, working on the fundamentals and weight lifting with Blake. I was going into my junior season and since I had sat out my freshman year and was injured during my sophomore year, I was determined to make a my debut this year. As of right now, I was now six foot eight, and two hundred twenty pounds. Since football season was coming to an end, we still had a month until our season started so we had work outs everyday after school from two to four. After three weeks of work outs, my verticle, speed, size , and basketball IQ were the talk of the school. Going one on one with our centers, small forwards, and power forwards, I dominated them all with ease, including the seniors. It came to the attention of a reporter who worked at UKP, a local news station, who was in charge of the sports section. Coming by the house, we had an thirty minute interview that was showed on the Friday night sports segment on UKP. Coming back from the weekend break, I was a celebrity at school, getting high-fives, chest bumps, and many jokes on my half of being nervous during my interview.
As a junior, my school was tried their best to put into our heads about our future, so I took an AP class on account of "preparation". I grabbed a seat in the back hoping to keep myself out of view. I was a extremely good student, rarely having to study since I was blessed with the gift of a photographic memory. By now I was now the talk of the school, and as the local news station described me, the savior grace of Blaine High and the best player that the school has had since its first days. I had never dated any girls from school, in fact I barely had the time for anything social the only person I really associated with was Blake. But sitting next to me was the basketball,volleyball all-star was Cara. She was a girl in the "in-crowd" along with my foster sister , Emily, who seemed to be the center of attention and dictated how the school was ran. I had only spoken to her a few times when she would spend a night with Emily,but it we only exchanged a greeting and an occasional conversation about basketball. As she sat down next to me, I couldn't help but glance at her, only to be caught by her and recieved a angelic smile. It began difficult to focus in class, as my mind began to wonder. Soon the bell rang and I was off to workouts.
After another month of school, our football team won the state championship as they were lead to victory by our quarterback,Phil Micheals, who was a top college prospect. Now we we upon the arrival of the basketball season. On Friday, the season started against our town rivals and past state champions, Winchester High. They were a highly skilled and depended heavly on their championship defense, led by their seven foot star center, Joe Edwards. This would be my first game as a starter, I had been waiting for this debut for the past three years. By time I was on the court, I silenced everything from my mind, but Blake and the sound of the ball dribbling. My goal was to score, get into their heads, and shut down Joe. It was only the half time, but we had a 41-39 lead on the State Champions. With my ability to score, the elite, precision passes and driving skills by Blake, we had them on their heels wondering how we had gotten so good. Coach had me and Blake sit out the third quarter to rest and I had to watch as Joe and his team turned the tides and took a 62-43 lead going into the fourth quarter. Coming back into the game in the fourth quarter, me and Blake's chemistry exploded as we were throwing alley oops, behind the back passes, and set each other for three-point shots. Much to the chagrin of Winchester, they watched as their lead diminished from 62-43 to 65-63. Only making a three pointer off a bad defense play that left their shooting guard wide open. With 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the ball was back in my hands and I was at the the top of the key with their small forward guarding me. 10,9,8,7,6, I hit a quick double crossover on him easily getting past him, and spun on the incoming defender trying to help his teammate. 5,4,3,2,1. With the clock dwindling down on my way to the lane to make this game go into OT, I came face to face with Joe, who stood ready to block me at all cost, the star players going head to head. Coming to a stop, I pumped a jumpshot that got Joe into the air, and leaning into him, I through up a shot that miraculously went in, and earned a free shot as Joe was called for the foul. The crowd was silent as I stood at the line. Growing up, Rick told me free throws decide a game, so I was often practicing them. Bouncing the ball three times, flipping the ball in the palm of my hand, I bent my knees and let the ball soar towards the basket and watched as it hit the back of the net and signaled our victory. The crowd erupted into a deafening sign of applause and cheers as we took the win from the State Champions. I earned a few high fives from the guys, a fist bump from Blake, and a rare smile from Rick.
We were off on the right track. I had a decent game finishing with a double-double with twenty-six points, 10 rebounds, a block, and three steals. The newstation was kind to me the next day, calling me Saint Jay, the man who let his hand show his team the way to victory over the state champs. I stayed home on Sunday to rest and invited Blake over for some video games. The next day at school, I recieved applaused in my classes. Cara turned to me in class and congratulated me on a great game and told me she had enjoyed watching me play. Giving her a small nod, I thanked her.
We won our next four games by large margins, The teams were seeing a whole new Blaine basketball team that was dominating anybody they played. I continued to average a double-double with twenty plus points and ten plus rebounds per game. I was just getting home from the health club when Emily walked into my room.
"Someone I know has been talking about you lately and is often hinting that she wants you to ask her out," Emily told me.
"Really? Someone told you about me?" I asked.
"Uh-huh, you interested in a date?" she asked a smile forming on her lips.
"Depends, who is she?"
"Well she's very pretty, smart athletic, my friend and really likes you." She replied " She sits next to you in your AP World History class."
"Cara?" I asked a little too eagerly.
"Bingo!" she smiled widely.
I looked at Emily like she was crazy. I didn't really believe her because she would often try to play tricks on me so I quickly found out not to apprehend what she tells me. She went on to tell me, that Cara had wondered why I never spoke to her, was it because I already had a girlfriend. Knowing me to be oblivious to anything but basketball, Cara told her no , that my mind was just on basketball.
I thought about it the next couple of days, but my mind was on our back to back games on Thursday and Friday night. We played and beat a easy team on Thursday, but tonight we played against the runner ups of last year's state championship, a certain playoff contender. This was of course another must win game to help boost our morale. My mind was completely focused on the game.
"Hey Devon, what are you doing after the game?" Cara asked approaching me.
"Just going home and resting," I replied.
"Oh, well a friend of mine is having a party after a game, and since Emily was going with Brandon, would you like to.... you go...with me," She said nervously.
"Sorry, I'm not the kind of guy to party," I said quietly.
"Yeah I know, Cara told me all you think about is basketball, but I figured I should ask anyway," she replied.
She seemed really disappointed and I thought back to what Emily had told me earlier. Before she could leave the classroom, I grabbed her hand.
"You going to the game tonight?", I asked.
"Wouldn't miss it, and neither will the rest of the student body," she beamed.
"Lets see what happens after the game," I told her.
She smiled instantly. "Okay!"
As we entered the court of the opposing team, we were instantly booed, letting us know we were not wanted here. Playing many years of basketball, I learn to drown out the noise of the crowd as they were irrelevant, however it is always better to know they are cheering for you. The home team's starting lineup was called up, receiving applause from their crowd. Then in a disturbed tone, they named our starting line up, receiving repetitive boos.
We lined up at the center of the court, waiting for the opening tip. With the ball in the air, our center quickly tipped the ball to the back court towards Blake, who picked up the ball and through a pass to me while I was running in a open lane, easily scoring. Me and Blake went to work quickly at the beginning of the game, using our provided chemistry to use a bunch of maneuvers and passes to break down their defense. We were had a good eleven point lead of 28-17, at the end of the first quarter.
In the second half they tried bringing two people to guard me instead of one. I figured I'd see this happen eventually, so I was always prepared for this. We performed a three man weave with our teammate,James, the shooting guard. Blake passes to me, then I to James, James back to Blake, Blake to James, and me for the cut in to the lane for a score. This method was only effective enough to bring the lead up by six points. Everytime I got the ball they would bring to people on me, so I would have to pass it to the open man for assists. We went up to a 72-46 lead at the end of the third quarter. Coach Rick to the starters out the game in the fourth quarter to let the second string get playing time. We never relinquished the lead ending the game 84-68. I finished the game with twenty points, seven rebounds, and a career high of fourteen assists. Looking around, I found Cara standing with Emily and I guess the guy she was taking to the party, Brandon. She smiled and waved me over when she saw me.
"Hey Devon, nice game today," she said.
"Thanks, it was a much needed win, now we can continue our undefeated season," I replied.
"You want to go to the party?" SHe asked
"Actually, how about I take you to dinner instead?" I asked.
"Sure!" she replied.
"Good, can you wait until I take a shower and get changed.?", I asked.
"Yes I'll meet you in the parking lot," she told me.
I walked into the locker room, jumped into the shower, satisfied with my now fresh scent, I got out and put my clothes on. Packing my game shoes, shorts, and jersey in my bag, I headed to the parking lot.
We walked over to my camaro. There was a few good things about having a former professional basketball player as a foster dad. Tossing my bag in the backseat, I opened Cara's door for her, then walked to my side and got in the drivers seat. I was taking her to a new five-star resturant that just opened up a mile from where we were.
"Do you have a curfew?" I asked her.
"No, My parents trust me," She replied.
We had a really good time, she ordered a roundhouse steak, and I just got a burger and fries. We talked about what I planned to do after high school, what college I was thinking about going to, where I was born, and just things about myself. Looking at my watch, I had noticed we had been in the resturant "for an hour and a half.
"You ready to leave?", I asked her.
"Yes," she replied.
Paying for the dineer, I slipped a ten dollar tip and we headed for my car. I drove her to her house, got out and opened her door for her. She told me she had a great night. STanding on her tippy toes, she gave me a quick peck on the lips before hurring inside her house.
We easily won our next nine games by a margin of twenty or more, our dynamic offense being the deciding factor. We held all of our teams under fifty while we managed to score more than eighty each game; breaching the hundred point mark twice. Rick was getting calls from recruiters asking him what college I planned on attending. He kept all options open by telling them all that it was my decision after all.It was quite ordinary to see me on the news as it was always how many great plays I made that kept our undefeated season alive.
Ever since the night we had dinner after the game, me and Cara dated many times over the past couple of weeks, going out to eat, movies, and eventually her dragging me to a party. Soon, I found myself looking forward to spending time with her. She helped take my mind off everything and give me a chance to live my teenage life. We began kissing, which gradually turned into making out, but it never went further than that. Rick instilled into me to be a gentleman and always wait for the lady.
We were playing the worst team in our division, they were winless in and out of the division. This was the last game before spring fling the following week that was a week of games back to back to back and so forth. The game was followed by the annual spring dance. Spring break was only two weeks away.
It was a blowout , by halftime I had thirty-two points , sixteen rebounds, seven steals, and three blocks setting the school record for points , rebounds, and steals. The score was a easy 74-12. As in not to embarass them, Coach sat us out the second half, and we watched as our secondary team, pushed the lead to 114-42 by the end of the game. After the game I walked to locker room, showered, changed, and went to the cafteria where the dance was being held.
I arrived at the dance ten minutes late. I was greeted with applause from everybody as I entered the cafeteria. Looking around, I found Cara in the corner standing with Emily and her boyfriend, Brandon. Seeing as I finally made it, she came rushing into my arms.
"Hey big shot, great game even though you only played one half," she exclaimed.
"Thank you," I replied.
A repitive tap on the mic caught everybody's attention. Everybody turned towards the stage where our student council president, Leslie, struggled to turn the mike on. Banging on the microphone, resorted to a high screeching, that made everybody cover ther ears. After a couple of seconds, she got it working.
"Hey everybody and welcome to the Spring Dance !" she shouted into the microphone.
This earned a applause from the students.
"As you may know the results are in for Spring Fling Court." She turned to where the band was playing. "Drum roll please."
The drummer began a slow drum roll.
"Our Spring Fling King is....," she paused to let the suspense in the air." Devon Valentine!"
Everybody immediately turned to look at me. They began to clap enthusically. I held my head down in shyness and was gonna stand there had Cara not pushed me forward towards the stage. Walking up the stage, I stood next to Leslie who placed the crown on my head.
"Now for Spring Fling Queen..." She paused again to add the same suspense as earlier."Please welcome to the stage, Miss Cara Robinson."
Now it was her turn to blush, and act shy. Emily gave her a little nudge that caused her to make her way to the stage. She made her way to stand next to Leslie who placed the crown atop of her head.
"Now please congralute the Spring Fling Court!" she shouted. "May you guys take the honor of first dance."
We recieved applause. I led her down the steps and onto the dance floor. Placing my hands on her waist while she locked her arms around my neck, we began a slow dance. Soon the other couples took our lead , and we were surrounded by dancing couples.
We spent the rest of the night dancing, especially to the slow songs. I loved how Cara's body fit into mine. The warmth her body gave off onto my own. The band left around midnight, and everybody began to go home. I took Cara home, ending our night with a kiss.