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It was an average day in El Paso, Texas. The birds chirping and the Sunday Choir getting ready to sing. De’Andre rushed through the church doors. He was drenched in sweat with a basketball in his right hand. Big Moma Sitting in her normal spot in the front row looking at her son and shaking her head. While De’Andre walked to the front row he leaned over to Big Moma and said
“Im sorry practice ran late”
Big Moma turned to her son and glared at him
“ It's not practice if it's just you and a hoop”
Now De’Andres dream was to make it to the NBA to give his mom a better life
“You know I'm doing this for you”
Big Moma still looking at her son in disappointment
“ I ain't never asked you to do nothing”
De’andre knew that his mom did not want him to go through this much trouble. He felt like this was the only way he will be able to pay her back. She had done so much like four different jobs to put a roof over his head, take him to school, and put a meal in front of him for 16 years. Big Moma, Mrs.Henry, as not told her son that they are moving to California because she got a job offer. It could give her son a better opportunity to get recruited and would also allow Mrs. Henry to only work one job instead of four. After church they went straight home so Mrs. Henry can tell her son the big news. They entered the house and she sat de’Andre down and put her hand on his knee.
“ You know I love you right”
De’ Andre knew something was wrong so he inched closer to is mother.
“ What's wrong?”.
Mrs.Henry took a deep breath.
“Were moving to California in a week so start packing”.
Then Mrs. Henry hurried before De’andre could say anything but de’Andre caught his mom
“ What do you mean we're moving we stayed her for my whole life now your just going to throw that away and for what?!”
Mrs. Henry turned around and headed toward her son with a angry face.
“ Don't you ever catch that tone with me we are moving to give you a better life and that is final”.
“My life is great here so we're going to move just like dad moved away”.
“ We are going to move and we're not having this debate again”l
Mrs.Henry cut De’andre off and walked away. She knows that De’andres father moved away because he never came back from that grocery store run. It has always been tough on her son and they already had a talk on how they are to never speak about him again. But Mrs. Henry never let go of her love for De’andres father in fact that going to be the same father of her son to be. While she walked into her room she shut the door collapsed and tears started to run down her face. She would continue this until she fell asleep. The next day De’andre left the house without saying a word to his mother. De’ Andre and his mom lived in a small county so school was only some days out of the week. So he decided to hang out with some of his friends to complain about how unreasonable his mom was being. De’andre has never been used to a big change like this. The farthest he had ever gone from home was just one hour down the road. So naturally he was not used to this big change to move to California. When he got back to his house he can see that all of his boxes were being loaded into a moving van. De’andre could have argued with his mom again because they weren't supposed to move for another week but he didn't want to make his mom angry again. It was a long drive and they passed through multiple lunch places but big Moma had her mind set to driving the whole way and only stopping to fuel up. De’andre gave his mom some slack because hey did get a quick bit to eat before they hit the road. When they finally arrived in California they passed De’andres school to be…. Chino Hills High School. This school is famous for they're basketball team so De’andre knew that he had a lot of competition. His Freshman year went by with him on the bench the whole year because he played behind the star of chino hills Lamelo Ball.
“Stay on the bench rookie” Lamelo would always tell him.
The summer before his sophomore season he devoted himself to getting better and starting next year. There was only one problem. The school bully butch was out there waiting for him every day just to cause trouble. Butch would go take whatever amount of money De’andre had even if it was a little amount like a penny. Big Moma knew about butch but she wasn't going to say anything to De’andre unless he talked to her first. So now every time he goes to the gym e has to find a creative way to get in. He usually distracts him with food of some sort. Butch was a big guy but when he saw a piece of food he would run so fast it would seem like he is a professional track star. The day before school de’andre came home from practice and as soon as he entered the door he can see his mother glaring at him in the door way.
“Where have you been you know I get worried sick when I don't see you”.
De’andre thought of something to say but nothing came out,
“ Well boy say something”
He finally got the words to come out of his mouth
“ I was at practice Coach does not let us get a break just to check in with Our moms. When I'm in college and can help you out then I'll check in”.
Big Moma didn't waste anytime to slap her son. She never tolerated sass from anyone no matter if it's a family member or the pope. De’andre was not usually known to sass his parents but he had been flustered because he has let Lamelo get inside his head. Everyday when he was at practice, he always kept on replaying what Lamelo said in is head. That is what had drove him to be a hard worker but at the same time he was wondering if Lamelo was right. De’andre decided to talk to his mother about it. When Big Moma heard her sons problems and put his hands on his lap and took a deep breath.
“ He will only get in your head if you let him. He has no power over you. You know how good you are and you work out everyday, trust me baby your going to be on the court instead of him.”
De’andre knew that she was sincere because she didn't like to praise him. Big mama didn't believe in praising your children because she doesn't want him to get a big head because she knows if he does get a big head the real world would eat him alive. That night when De’andre went to sleep and prayed to God that he would give him the strength to not let Lamelo get inside of his head.
“Dear Lord, I just want to thank you for this day and everything you have done for me. Lord I pray that you help me to overcome people who try to keep me down. Amen.”
When the season came around De’andre was the first and last person at practice. During his practices he noticed that there was this little white man watching him. He thought that he was watching someone else but when he saw the way his eyes were moving he knew that the eyes were in fact on him. When he was walking out of practice the man approached him.
“Hey son my name is Tony Saunders I'm the head coach for the University of California Los Angeles. I'm going to be honest with you I came to see Lamelo, but you have talent. There is only on spot left on our roster. I will be at your games to keep a tab on you.”
De’andre couldn't believe what he's hearing he tried to keep a giant grin from spreading.
“Thank you sir, you will not be disappointed.”
He rushed home to tell his mom the news. Big mama told him to keep on working and that offer will come. The next couple practices he saw Mr. Saunders at his practice but he didn't want to approach him because he was way to nervous. After the first couple games de’andre didn't play much but other colleges started to offer him a full ride scholarship to go to their school. De'andre was excited to have all these offer but one college was missing. UCLA. He felt that UCLA was the college for him. De’andres first game as a starter was against Pebblebrook High School.h H had to guard the one and only Michael Trigg who is already committed to the University of Alabama. Micheal Trigg was arguably the best point guard in the nation. When the game started he allowed Micheal to score 25 points in the first half. When the team got to the locker room at halftime, the coach of Chino Hills looked right at De’andre and pulled him to the side.
“Son I know your young but you have to stop Micheal Trigg. I seen you play great defense in practice now what's happening?”
De’andre didn't know what was happening to him he just couldn't perform like he knew he could. He stayed silent and stared at his Coach.
“Since you can't answer my question I'm going to start lamelo this second half.”
De’andre felt a tear run down his face when heard this. When the buzzer(signifies start of second half) went off, he just walked to the bench and stared at his feet. While he was looking at his feet he couldn't tell who scored. Towards the end of the 4th quarter he heard “Stay on the bench” and right after that he knew who just scored. The score was 89-87 pebblebrook with 3 seconds left on the clock and they took a timeout. In the huddle he saw Lamelo mouthing some words that god would not approve of to him. He finally worked up the courage to say something.
“Coach put me in, you know deep down in your heart I'm the best person to take the final shot.”
Coach looked around to the team and then back to De’andre.
“Boy I was waiting for you to speak up, lamelo get outDe’andre your going to take that final shot.”
Lamelo ran out the gym still yelling those same words while De’andre was walking onto the court. De’andre got the inbound pass and noticed that Micheal Trigg was guarding him. He knew that Micheal Trigg was a good defender because he averages 5 blocks a game but that doesn't seem to phase De’andre. De'andre took one dribble and pulled up for the shot, as soon has the ball left his hands he got a little shove from Micheal. The ball went in and toilet bowled around the rim until it eventually………..went out of the hoop and onto the floor. De’andre fell to his knees and pounding the floor while tears ran down is face. Pebblebrook and Micheal Trigg were all celebrating until…
The referee ran onto the court and called a personal foul on Micheal Trigg and since De’andre was shooting a 3-pointer he would have 3 free throws. While he was at the free throw line he looked at his mother and remember what he had told her about going to play college basketball and then he began to shoot. First shot…Made….Second shot….Made….Third shot….it had bounced of the rim and backboard a couple times until it eventually went in. After the game De’andre got a phone call and on the other line was Coach Saunders. He had finally offered De’andre a full ride scholarship to play for them next year and then he committed on the spot. A couple months later De’andre signed his L.O.I. (Letter Of Intent) and was playing college basketball for his dream school. With all this stuff going on around him he still remembers his hoop in the gym and California. He forever referred to his journey has California Hoops.