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“Yo, Javon, you playin’ ball after school?” shouted Kwame
“Man, I don’t know, I gotta study for chemistry, I can’t be lettin’ my grades drop,” replied Javon. This was a normal response from Javon.
One temperate afternoon in late August, Javon sat down and to convey to his guidance counselor, Mr. James, his largest dilemma.
“Javon, what can I do for you?” Mr. James questioned.
“Mr. James, I just want to go to college next year, but there is no way that I can afford it,” responded Javon.
“Well, there are scholarships out there.”
“Okay, I’m listening.”
“Well, I knew this day would come, so I have been looking for any scholarship that you could apply for.”
“What’d you find so far?”
“Well, there are a number for students that have overcome adversity, but I think the scholarship that best fits you is a basketball tournament that East Chicago College puts on each year. The college awards enough money for each member of the team to get a sizeable scholarship.”
“That sounds awesome! What do I have to do?” Javon interrupted.
“Well, first you have to fill out this paper work, we can do that now, and then you must find two others to play on you team; it’s a three-on-three tournament.”
That won’t be hard.
“You will also need to apply to the college; the high school should be able to cover the application cost.”
The two of then filled out the necessary paperwork and shipped it to East Chicago College. Javon then jogged out of Mr. James’ office and went to find Kwame and Demond, his basketball buddies. Javon, as usual, found them on the local basketball court. The courts were worn and reaching there breaking points. The nets were made of steel chains, that had wore away their protective coating and now insisted upon rusting. The large, plastic backboards had been broken down and patched with pieces worn of wood. The graffiti on and around the court had challenged the local parents patience, for this graffiti was not of beautiful artwork, but horrible signs meant to display gang activities.
The three boys trained together each day for several weeks. The months moved from August to October. The boys improved each day, setting up new plays and methods to challenge their opponents. They stayed after school with the basketball coach trying to get extra tips to help them win. Kwame and Demond just wanted to help out Javon. They both knew that he had a real chance in life, a chance to make a difference.
The tournament was scheduled to begin November 1st, the day before the tournament; Javon received his letter of acceptance from East Chicago College, solving his first problem. The day had finally come; they would get their opportunity to play for Javon.
The three boys arrived at Kwame’s house at about 6:45 am and left at approximately 7:00 am, with the early winter frost biting at their lungs. They got aboard the local bus and quietly looked at the tall, gothic architecture surrounding them, as the buildings gradually shifting from vacant to lively.
They arrived at the college after what seemed to be only a few minutes, when in reality it was a half hour. The three boys slowly willed themselves off the bus and strutted towards the unknown surrounding, looking for the direction to go.
“Dawg, where we goin’? I don’t like not knowing where I’m goin’,” Kwame emphatically said..
“Hey man, chill, we’ll find it,” Javon replied, seeing a sign saying “3-on-3 Basketball Tournament” with an arrow pointing down the road, and a stream leading directly into the desired building.
“Okay, man look, these signs will show us where to go,” Demond mumbled. The boys traveled down the glorified road. They three of them strolled into the Dean Sporting Complex and found the registration desk.
“Washington East Senior High School.”
“Okay, go straight down the hallway and into the first set of locker rooms,” she said with authority in her voice.
Javon led his two large friends down the endless hallway, searching the hanging pictures for events of the past. After Javon told the locker room manager the necessary information, he said, ”Last room on the right, you guys can leave your belongings in there, your first game is in half-an-hour, your warm-up is in 10-minutes; go through that door to get to the gym.”
The boys changed and then went into the gym. It was like nothing they had ever seen; there were at least eight thousand seats and floors of a beautiful cherry.
“Dawg, I ain’t gonna lie, these are some pretty nice digs,” Kwame said astonished.
The boys prepared using their scripted warm-up, still astonished by the quality of the court. Javon went to half court and looked upward, thinking about who he would need to beat. Their first game was against a group of small white guys who weren’t particularly good.
“It shouldn’t be too hard to deal with these guys,” Demond said, laughing.
The boys dismantled the competition for two weeks, dominating each team and their average basketball skills. On the last day of the fortnight, Javon was informed that they would be playing for the scholarship. On the bus ride home, Javon excitedly told Kwame and Demond the superb news.
The finals were theirs, but it was going to be a true test for them. The boys that they would play were practically famous, having spent their entire lives playing basketball. These boys went around the side-streets of Chicago beating everyone that got in their way. Javon had never seen the boys play, but Kwame assured him that they were outstanding.
The final game began, the only game separating Javon from his future, intensified as the time passed and the score stayed tight. Neither team was able to get an advantage. The crowd roared. The final quarter began, the score tied, and the other team had the momentum.
Ten minutes was all that separated Javon and his dream in life. Kwame and Demond simply looked at each other as they entered the playing floor for the final quarter of the game. They knew what had to be done. The other team started with the ball and moved it slowly up the floor, not watching for any kind of defense.
One of the boys on the other team set a screen, and the point guard slyly moved to proceed around it, unaware of what was there. Out jumped Javon, slapping the ball and getting it up the floor to Kwame, who was able to finish the play with a powerful slam-dunk.
The crowd had not expected Javon’s team to stay with these players this long, especially not to be leading. All momentum and the crowd had shifted to Javon’s team, the screams were almost deafening.
Kwame yelled to his teammates, “Only a minute left, come on!!”
The final minute was upon them, still clinging to that two point lead. The other team came down the floor quickly, confident that they would be able to win. They wasted little time and then after a missed shot, their biggest man was able to dunk the rebound.
“Only 40 seconds remaining; this is a tight one; it should go down to the wire,” yelled the announcer.
With three time-outs remaining, Javon quickly called one as he got over half-court.
“30 seconds remaining.”
“Dawgs dis be it, its show time, and I really want to win,” Javon said.
“Man, we goin’ to win, just stay calm,” Kwame assured Javon.
They broke out of the time-out and took the ball up the floor, the time slowly expiring. The score was tied, their man goal being to waste time and break it. Javon pointed around, ordering his friends to move towards him and set a pair of screens. And then it happened, Javon got around the first screen and then got the ball swiped. The other player ran down the court and broke the tie. There were only five seconds left. Javon called his second to last time out, and simply told Kwame and Demond not to worry, he had it under control, although he was still rattled after having the ball stolen quick hands of the other team just moments ago.
Kwame in-bounded the sought-after ball and Javon made is run up the floor, dodging the three defenders, Javon.made it halfway between half court and the three-point line and put up a prayer. The ball lofted toward the hoop, time expired, and then--“swish.”
The spinning, orange ball went through the net, like boiling water through ice. The three boys let out a loud yell, as they knew that they had just completed the only goal that their friend had ever wanted. Kwame and Demond wanted to give their shares of the money to Javon, so that he could attend college.
The boys went to Kwame’s and celebrated. This was quite possibly the happiest day of their lives. They had always to known that they were going to win. Unfortunately, the next day tragedy struck, as the college informed Javon’s high school that there were some problems with the boy’s win. Mr. James called the three boys down to his office to inform them about the horrible news.
“Boys there were some problems with the transfer of funds,” Mr. James slowly said. “After looking at our records, the college officials found that Kwame was academically ineligible. They said that they may need to take the money away from you. After explaining to the officials that you two boys, pointing at Kwame and Demond, were going to give the money Javon and to fulfill his yearning to go to college, they told me that they might be able to work something out. They called back a couple of hours later and told me that they could give you a full scholarship, but could not give anything to Kwame or Demond. I told them…”
“No, man that’s fine, we don’t care,” Kwame and Demond interruptedly agreed.
“That’s exactly what I thought.”
The following fall Javon attended East Chicago College, majoring in English Composition, a real favorite of his. Javon tried out for the basketball team and made a difference as a great “sixth man.” After a successful semester, Javon wrote about his journey to college for his mid-term exam.