State of Texas employee Christy Kyles to shed ‘tears of joy’ during son’s graduation

Prom2DUNCANVILLE, Texas — When Christy Kyles walks inside of the internationally acclaim Potter’s House Church Saturday afternoon for her son’s high school graduation, it will then all dawn on her.

“Through the tears of joy being shed, will I know that he never gave up,” Kyles said during a recent interview in MemphiSport’s inaugural Salute To Graduates 2015.

Kyles, the mother of five, was referring to Daniel Lee Hall, her third of five children, who will be awarded his diploma from MacArthur High during the Irving-based school’s commencement exercises.

The graduation ceremony is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m.

HOOP DREAMS --- An honor student who boasts a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, Daniel Hall was a four-year varsity player for MacArthur’s basketball team in which he played an integral role for a Cardinals team that reeled off 11 consecutive wins before falling to Plano West in the UIL state championship game in San Antonio.  Having played mostly combo guard, Daniel started sparingly for a MacArthur team that ended the season with 23-8 record, highlighted by a Region 2-6A District 9 regular season crown.

HOOP DREAMS — An honor student who boasts a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, Daniel Hall was a four-year varsity player for MacArthur’s basketball team in which he played an integral role for a Cardinals team that reeled off 11 consecutive wins before falling to Plano West in the UIL state championship game in San Antonio.
Having played mostly combo guard, Daniel started sparingly for a MacArthur team that ended the season with 23-8 record, highlighted by a Region 2-6A District 9 regular season crown. (Photos submitted by C. Kyles)

According to Kyles, a Lawton, Oklahoma native and longtime employee for the State of Texas, among the things about which she deems mostly intriguing about Daniel’s forthcoming milestone is that for someone was had been heavily involved in an assortment of activities at MacArthur, he steadfastly remained focused on academics.

An honor student who boasts a cumulative grade point average of 3.0, Daniel was a varsity player for MacArthur’s basketball team in which he played an integral role for a Cardinals team that reeled off 11 consecutive wins before falling to Plano West in the UIL state championship game in San Antonio.

Having played mostly combo guard, Daniel started sparingly for a MacArthur team that ended the season with 23-8 record, highlighted by a Region 2-6A District 9 regular season crown.

While Daniel hasn’t ruled out playing basketball at the collegiate level, even if he doesn’t suit up in a college hoops uniform this fall, Kyles is quick to acknowledge that the sky’s the limit for a resourceful kid who had always stayed committed to making academic excellence the focal point with regards to maximizing his potential.

“He has continued to stay focused on his academics with everything our family has endured over the past year,” Kyles explained. “I have always told Daniel, ‘You can achieve anything you put your mind to.’”

STAYING FOCUSED --- According to Kyles, a Lawton, Oklahoma native and longtime employee for the State of Texas, among the things about which she deems mostly intriguing about her Daniel’s forthcoming milestone is that for someone was had been heavily involved in an assortment of activities at MacArthur, he steadfastly remained focused on academics.

STAYING FOCUSED — According to Kyles, a Lawton, Oklahoma native and longtime employee for the State of Texas, among the things about which she deems mostly intriguing about her Daniel’s forthcoming milestone is that for someone was had been heavily involved in an assortment of activities at MacArthur, he steadfastly remained focused on academics.

Aside from basketball, Daniel was a fixture in ROTC as well as spent two years taking Culinary Arts courses.

As for his plans beyond high school, Kyles said Daniel has narrowed his college choices to the United States Air Force Academy, Eastern New Mexico University, the University of Colorado at Denver, and Hofstra University, although her son hinted recently that enrolling at Air Force appears to be the likely choice.

Still, whether Daniel extends his basketball career at the collegiate ranks remains a mystery, one thing’s for certain, his mother says: she has no doubt that her son will do whatever is necessary to be resourceful once the next chapter of his life begins in the coming months.

BRIGHT FUTURE --- As for his plans beyond high school, Kyles said Daniel has narrowed his college choice to the United States Air Force Academy, Eastern New Mexico University, University of Colorado at Denver, and Hofstra University, although her son hinted recently that enrolling at Air Force appears to be the likely choice.

BRIGHT FUTURE — As for his plans beyond high school, Kyles said Daniel has narrowed his college choice to the United States Air Force Academy, Eastern New Mexico University, University of Colorado at Denver, and Hofstra University, although her son hinted recently that enrolling at Air Force appears to be the likely choice.

“Failure is not an option when God is in the situation,” said Kyles who, along with her family, attends West Irving Church of God In Christ. With God, there is no limit to where He will take you.”

Which, as a result, will make the countless tears worth shedding when her son’s name is finally called to be awarded his diploma come Saturday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you would like to salute a Class of 2015 graduate with a unique celebratory tribute that will be designed like this one, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Oklahoma AAU hoops standout Khalayah Willis boasts unyielding love for the game

Hoops1SPRINGER, Oklahoma — No one can question Khalayah Willis’ passion for basketball.

Absolutely no one.

Take, for instance, just recently when Willis sent her mother, Kaniesha Roberts, text messages pleading with her to allow her to go to a nearby YMCA so she could work on her fundamentals despite being hampered by an ankle sprain that required medical treatment.

Said the injured Willis via text: “Mama, can I go to the YMCA tomorrow to play basketball? Tiona wants me to come because she’s going to be the only one there.”

Approximately one minute later, Willis continued to convince her mother that she’s armed with an immense competitive drive for the game she’s come to embrace.

Her ensuring text message read: “Why am I going to have a brace on? Please…I’ll put ice on it to make it feel good. I’m trying to and get better.”

After sharing her daughter’s text messages on her Facebook timeline, a number of Roberts’ fellow social media friends were astounded, thus intrigued by Willis’ unyielding love for basketball.

And to think, she’s only 11 year old.

“The time I was really proud of my daughter was the time she sprung her ankle in the first game of a (recent) tournament and she played on that ankle the last two games with pride and heart,”

STAR WATCH --- It is because of Khalayah Willis' assertiveness and willingness to contribute mightily for the Lady Dream Team 11-and-under AAU team that this squad has become a force on the amateur hoops circuit of late.  Willis is the catalyst of a Lady Dream Team squad that recently captured a fifth-and-sixth-grade group championship in San Antonio. (Photos submitted by K. Roberts)

STAR WATCH — It is because of Khalayah Willis’ assertiveness and willingness to contribute mightily for the Lady Dream Team 11-and-under AAU team that this squad has become a force on the amateur hoops circuit of late.
Willis is the catalyst of a Lady Dream Team squad that recently captured a fifth-and-sixth-grade group championship in San Antonio. (Photos submitted by K. Roberts)

Roberts said. “She finished what she started. The following tournament, the doctor told her to stay off it for two weeks.”

Text1Text2However, as Roberts recalls, her daughter had other ideas.

“She refused to do that,” Roberts explained. “She played that whole tournament with a brace on. She was told to rest. She said, ‘I can ice it and wear my brace.’ She said, ‘I can’t get better in a brace.’”

It is, in fact, because of Willis’ assertiveness and willingness to contribute mightily for the Lady Dream Team 11-and-under AAU team that this squad has become a force on the amateur hoops circuit of late.

Willis is the catalyst of a Lady Dream Team squad that recently captured a fifth-and-sixth-grade group championship in San Antonio.

The team’s leading scorer, the 5-foot-5 Willis plays mostly point guard and, given her team’s success in recent weeks, it’s safe to assume that as she goes, so goes the Lady Dream Team.

“I was so excited when they won the championship in San Antonio,” Roberts said. “It was a long drive (from Springer). “The girls worked so hard for a week long and came out on top. Khalayah played that game with heart and she had me so proud.”

PROVEN LEADER --- The team’s leading scorer, the 5-foot-5 Willis plays mostly point guard and, given her team’s success in recent weeks, it’s safe to assume that as she goes, so goes the Lady Dream Team.  “I was so excited when they won the championship in San Antonio,” Roberts said. “It was a long drive (from Springer). “The girls worked so hard for a week long and came out on top. Khalayah played that game with heart and she had me so proud.”

PROVEN LEADER — The team’s leading scorer, the 5-foot-5 Willis plays mostly point guard and, given her team’s success in recent weeks, it’s safe to assume that as she goes, so goes the Lady Dream Team.
“I was so excited when they won the championship in San Antonio,” Roberts said. “It was a long drive (from Springer). “The girls worked so hard for a week long and came out on top. Khalayah played that game with heart and she had me so proud.”

Willis’ admiration for basketball was first discovered by her mother at a local YMCA when she was only five years. From that point on, Roberts began to devises way to get her child — who boasts mostly a size advantage against opposing point guards — involved in the sport on a competitive level.

To her daughter’s credit, she’s been playing for three years — and counting.

SOLID SUPPORTING CAST --- Among the reasons for her continuous progress is that Willis’ has developed such immense passion, let alone a never-say-die countenance that many say is virtually unteacheable.  “My overall reaction when I knew this was going to be her sport when I see how upset she gets when she loses a game,” Roberts explained. “At that moment, I knew right then she was very competitive.”

SOLID SUPPORTING CAST — Among the reasons for her continuous progress is that Willis’ has developed such immense passion, let alone a never-say-die countenance that many say is virtually unteacheable.
“My overall reaction when I knew this was going to be her sport when I see how upset she gets when she loses a game,” Roberts explained. “At that moment, I knew right then she was very competitive.”

“My reaction after finding out she will be playing AAU basketball was exciting because at that time she, was young and there wasn’t an AAU (team) for her age. So I got with the coach that was coaching a grade up and told him I have a daughter that has a heart for the game. I asked him if she can play on your team and he said bring her to practice and we will go from there. She has been playing for 3 years now and every year she gets better and better.”

Among the reasons for her continuous progress is that Willis has developed such immense passion, let alone a never-say-die countenance that many say is virtually unteacheable.

“My overall reaction when I knew this was going to be her sport when I see how upset she gets when she loses a game,” Roberts explained. “At that moment, I knew right then she was very competitive.”

Which, by all accounts, is why the sky’s the limit for Willis — this young, vibrant, speedy floor general whose admiration for the game can’t merely be brought into question.

By absolutely no one.

“I love basketball because it’s fun and easy,” Willis said. “My mom and dad have been supportive. My mom tells me what’s right and she is real serious. The best advice my mom and coach tell me is not to cry and have an attitude on the basketball court. I’m going to continue to make my parents proud and hopefully one day make it to the WNBA.”

If nothing else, she certainly appears to be on the right track.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Young gymnast Leeiah Davis having international impact on amateur circuit

LeeiahDADJust recently, amateur Leeiah Destanee Davis was asked what are amongst her essential plans during the summer.

“This summer I want to go back to my hometown in Florida and get in the gym with one of my favorite gymnast, Derrian Goburne, and hope to run into Gabby Douglas,” Davis, during a recent interview, said while chuckling.

For Davis, a 10-year-old rising gymnast phenom who has enjoyed an array of success on the amateur circuit in recent years, it would be rather simple to grasp a thorough concept as to why she is destined to meet Douglas, who emphatically caught the sports world by storm when she became the first African-American woman to capture gold medals in both the all-around and team competitions in the 2012 Summer Games.

For starters, just like the young Douglas, Davis has proven to be just as big a gym rat, a trend that has ultimately has given way to a brutally immense work ethic, let alone a passion for the sport her parents initially discovered she embraced some five years ago.

CHECK OUT LEEIAH: gofundme.com/SupportLeeiahd

As Martha Tatham-Davis recalls, her then-baby daughter was seen jumping and tumbling off of virtually everything in their home that would suggests that this vibrant, happy-go-lucky kid was showing flashes that a future in gymnastics was essentially a foregone conclusion.

My reaction was, ‘Oh my!’ Tatham-Davis explained. “God has given her an awesome gift and I want to encourage her to explore it.”

The rest, as they say, was history.

Five years removed from being caught flipping off of house furniture as her parents looked on in wonderment, Leeiah, to her credit, has enjoyed a wealth of success as an amateur gymnast, a trend that has afforded her the golden opportunity to put her skills on display even outside of the United States.

TRACK DOWN LEEIAH: (Google #leeiahd)

LeeiahMainAmong the reasons is that Leeiah, a Winter Haven, Florida native whose family currents resides in Fort Meade, Maryland, made her competitive gymnastics debut in Europe — Vicenza, Italy to be exact.

That’s because Leeiah was — and still is — a military child, considering her father, Demetrius Davis, is a longtime soldier in the United States Army.

In fact, as Leeiah — who’s also competed briefly while living in Killeen, Texas — tells it, her continuous rise as a young gymnast would not have come full circle if not for the viable presence of her father who, according to her mother, endures what she describes as “separation anxiety,” particularly when her father is on assignment for the country.

DADDY'S GIRL --- Among the reasons is that Leeiah Davis, a Winter Haven, Florida native whose family currents resides in Fort Meade, Maryland, made her competitive gymnastics debut in Europe --- Vicenza, Italy to be exact.  That’s because Leeiah was --- and still is --- a military child, considering her father, Demetrius Davis, is a longtime soldier in the United States Army.  In fact, as Leeiah --- who’s also competed briefly while living in Killeen, Texas --- tells it, her continuous rise as a young gymnast would not have come full circle if not for the viable presence of her father who, according to her mother, endures what she describes as “separation anxiety,” particularly when her father is on assignment for the country.

DADDY’S GIRL — Among the reasons is that Leeiah Davis, a Winter Haven, Florida native whose family currents resides in Fort Meade, Maryland, made her competitive gymnastics debut in Europe — Vicenza, Italy to be exact.
That’s because Leeiah was — and still is — a military child, considering her father, Demetrius Davis, is a longtime soldier in the United States Army.
In fact, as Leeiah — who’s also competed briefly while living in Killeen, Texas — tells it, her continuous rise as a young gymnast would not have come full circle if not for the viable presence of her father who, according to her mother, endures what she describes as “separation anxiety,” particularly when her father is on assignment for the country.

“Leeiah is extremely close to her dad, and when certain things like separation anxiety sets in, gymnastics are her outlet,” Tatham-Davis said. “Nothing relaxes her like being in the gym, so it’s not just a past time for her, or something to do after school. It’s her therapy, it’s her job, and it’s her passion.

A student at Pershing Hill Elementary in Fort Meade, the 4-foot-10 Leeiah practices her craft as a gymnast for as close to 18 hours a week, according to her mother.

While often observing her daughter in action in the gym — or in her “sanctuary” of sorts, Tatham-Davis acknowledges — she even recalls a memorable encounter about which still brings her to smiles to this very day.

“The most memorable encounter would be watching her learn gymnast through the art of the sport itself due to the language barrier of beginning her career in a foreign country,” Tatham-Davis explained. “There is no limit, because God has blessed her infinitely. You don’t read about upcoming gymnasts that are a part of a military family every day. And while one might not think that’s a big component of her career, it truly is.”

Which, by all accounts, is among the grandest reasons that Leeiah — who is also an avid track and field standout — appears destined to leave it all out on the floor whenever she makes her much-anticipated presence in the gymnasium.

Whether in the states or anywhere else around the globe.

“I want to go to (the University of) Florida Gators for gymnastics or be a professional gymnast,” said Leeiah, explaining her future goals and ambitions. “It’s my dream to help take care of my parents and my brothers and sister. My dad is amazing. He is a soldier and he works hard for me so I want to make him happy with making good grades and follow my dreams.”

Something she hopes Olympic gold medalist phenom Gabby Douglas will hear about.

At some point in time.

Maybe, perhaps, this summer in Florida.

MAKING STRIDES --- Davis is also an avid track and field standout.

MAKING STRIDES — Davis is also an avid track and field standout.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

AndreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Colorado Springs-area multi-sport athlete Caleb Blake is as good as advertised

Caleb Blake FootballFootball.

Track and field.

Wrestling.

And maybe boxing.

Those are the sports about which Carson Middle School multisport standout Caleb Blake has enjoyed array of success in recent years in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area.

Given the continuous strides this 14-year-old, speedy, triple threat of an athlete has made of late, it’s safe to assume that Blake has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

If nothing else, he appears destined to add another sport to what undoubtedly is starting to become a pretty intriguing athletic repertoire.

Among the reasons of that Blake’s background is such that this slim, 150-pounder is amongst a family of stellar athletes.

STAR WATCH --- Showing virtually no signs of a letdown, Caleb Blake held his own on in track and field when he recently broke the 200 meter record for eighth graders in the league competition.   In addition, he manufactured a new record in the 4x100 meters and came close to following suit in the 100 meters. (Photos submitted by J. Williams)

STAR WATCH — Showing virtually no signs of a letdown, Caleb Blake held his own on in track and field when he recently broke the 200 meter record for eighth graders in the league competition.
In addition, he manufactured a new record in the 4×100 meters and came close to following suit in the 100 meters. (Photos submitted by J. Williams)

“I come from a line of talent,” Blake said during a recent interview. “Being surrounded by so much talent has been inspirational.”

Now we know why.

Blake not has a couple of uncles who are former NFL players, but his other brother, Demario Leonard, is headed to Colorado State University this fall on a football scholarship.

Add to the fact that Blake’s immense athletic prowess has been nothing short of impressive in recent years, and it’s no wonder many who have witnessed with amazement his rise in competitive sports believe the possibility exists that he could be just as efficient as those family members whom footsteps he’s following.

FUTURE RAM --- Blake not has a couple of uncles who are former NFL players, but his other brother, Demario Leonard, is headed to Colorado State University this fall on a football scholarship.

FUTURE RAM — Blake not has a couple of uncles who are former NFL players, but his other brother, Demario Leonard, is headed to Colorado State University this fall on a football scholarship.

Never mind how big the footprints are, as Carson Middle football coach Justin Arnell has suggests.

“In my 13 years of coaching, I’ve coached numerous players that have gone on to find success in high school and college,” Arnell said. “I have no doubt Caleb is on that path. He’s an absolute pleasure to be around on a daily basis. He works hard, motivates others, and leads by example. He does all of this under the context of being a kid. He’s perfect by no means, but he’s aware of his weaknesses, he’s coachable, and works to improve himself daily. If Caleb Blake walks into your school consider yourself one lucky coach. He makes your job easy.”

To grasp a thorough understanding of why Blake’s coaches have given nothing short of rave reviews surrounding this rising standout, look no further the numbers he registered this past season, most notably on the gridiron.

To his credit, Blake was the catalyst of Carson Middle’s football team, having produced a team-best 11 touchdowns, which ultimately gave way to him being christened as the team’s Most Valuable Player.

He did not slow down there.

COLORADO CHAMP --- On the competitive wrestling circuit for Carson Middle, Blake had proven to be just as good as advertised when he won the league championship in his weight class.

COLORADO CHAMP — On the competitive wrestling circuit for Carson Middle, Blake had proven to be just as good as advertised when he won the league championship in his weight class.

That’s because on the competitive wrestling circuit for Carson Middle, Blake had proven to be just as good as advertised when he won the league championship in his weight class.

Showing virtually no signs of a letdown, Blake held his own on in track and field when he recently broke the 200 meter record for eighth graders in the league competition.

In addition, he manufactured a new record in the 4×100 meters and came close to following suit in the 100 meters.

Not bad for a speedy, triple threat athlete whom many say his best days are well ahead of him.

Blake is headed near year to Fountain Fort Carson High School in nearby Fountain, Colorado.

“When it first dawned on me that he would be successful, I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude,” said Jessie Williams, Blake’s mother. “As I watch my son dominate just about every sport in which he is involved, that grants me a strong sense of hope that he will go extremely far in sports. He has innate abilities to perform successfully, which few are blessed to have. Therefore, we are humbled that God chose him.”

Said Cleon Blake, Caleb Blake’s father and a former Florida State track and field star: “When I watch him play, I see that he has a gift. Although a gift that is not open is merely a box, I just hope he continues to focus and work ethically to open his box to pull out the great potential that lies within.”

That, after all, is among the reasons many believe that, without question, the sky’s the limit for this rising standout of an athlete.

Most importantly, Caleb Blake senses that as well.

Wrestling 2“My parents are all involved and it increases my motivation when I have talks with my father, seeing my mother screaming from the stands or running from store to store to make sure I have what is needed,” Caleb Blake explained. “My step parents go above and beyond to make sure that I am successful as well. I am grateful to be surrounded by so much love and support.”

Regardless of whether it’s in football.

Track and field.

Wrestling.

Maybe even boxing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have a child or team that is seeking exposure and would like an in-depth sports news story, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him for details under “Andre T. Johnson.”

DreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

D. C. area AAU hoops standout Malachi Baker flourishing with solid support of his father

Just recently, Malachi Baker was going on and on about how his keen ability to progress on the basketball court has come to fruition, in large part because of the unyielding contributions of his father, Stephen Baker.

Baker“My dad has been very supportive,” Malachi said. “I often practice with him at home and he always encourages me to do my best. He even watches NBA TV with me every morning to watch the highlights. He buys me NBA collector’s cards every season and he takes me to the Wizards games from time to time to see (All-Star point guard) John Wall.”

Still, among the grandest reasons Malachi has enjoyed success on the amateur basketball circuit in recent years — particularly as a rising AAU standout — is that even for a nine-year-old, he steadfastly takes heed to his father’s pivotal advice.

Especially his occasional constructive criticism, a trend by which this youngster has gone to great lengths to embrace ever since he first began dribbling a basketball at the age of four.

YOUNG ALL-STAR --- Fortunately for Malachi Baker, a young, vibrant, assertive player who has developed a reputation for boasting an assortment of immense basketball smarts, he has managed to flourish in his brief time of playing competitive hoops, most notably in the Washington, D. C. area. For starters, Malachi, a Takoma Park, Maryland native who attends Mattaponni Elementary School, has become a fixture on the AAU circuit in recent years, having traveled to a number of establishments throughout the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic regions, where he’s had the luxury of putting his skills on display. (Photos submitted by S. Baker)

YOUNG ALL-STAR — Fortunately for Malachi Baker, a young, vibrant, assertive player who has developed a reputation for boasting an assortment of immense basketball smarts, he has managed to flourish in his brief time of playing competitive hoops, most notably in the Washington, D. C. area.
For starters, Malachi, a Takoma Park, Maryland native who attends Mattaponni Elementary School, has become a fixture on the AAU circuit in recent years, having traveled to a number of establishments throughout the East Coast and
Mid-Atlantic regions, where he’s had the luxury of putting his skills on display. (Photos submitted by S. Baker)

“I hate it when he criticizes me sometimes but I know it’s for my own good,” Malachi said. “The best advice that my father and coaches have given me is to keep trying to get better and never quit playing or dreaming.”

Fortunately for Malachi, a young, vibrant, assertive player who has developed a reputation for boasting an assortment of immense basketball smarts, he has managed to flourish in his brief time of playing competitive hoops, most notably in the Washington, D. C. area.

For starters, Malachi, a Takoma Park, Maryland native who attends Mattaponni Elementary School, has become a fixture on the AAU circuit in recent years, having traveled to a number of establishments throughout the East Coast and

Mid-Atlantic regions, where he’s had the luxury of putting his skills on display.

Add to the fact that his father had played such an instrumental role in his life on and off the hardwood, and it’s no wonder it’s safe to assume the sky’s the limit for this up-and-coming youth athlete.

“He first attended a basketball summer camp around this time,” said Stephen Baker, explaining when he first discovered his Malachi’s admiration for basketball. “For the next three years, he would attend various basketball clinics that the rec centers would have. This is the only sport that he plays thus far.”

For Malachi, it is a sport in which this youngster has shown no signs of giving up anytime soon.

As Stephen tells it, his son not only has learned the importance of valuable sportsmanship — a trend by which a number of his peers often struggle with at this age — but he has become knowledgeable of the various mechanics and fundamentals needed to enjoy success as an amateur.

ONE BUSY DAD --- On game days, arguably no one seems as giddy and excited as Stephen Baker who, even while watching his son compete from the stands, he get to witness firsthand a rising young athlete --- who, because of his ability to become teachable --- is destined to become a household name someday. Much like Wall, the Wizards’ prized two-time All-Star point guard.

ONE BUSY DAD — On game days, arguably no one seems as giddy and excited as Stephen Baker who, even while watching his son compete from the stands, he get to witness firsthand a rising young athlete — who, because of his ability to become teachable — is destined to become a household name someday.
Much like Wall, the Wizards’ prized two-time All-Star point guard.

“His rec league coach from this past season was extremely helpful and very encouraging,” Stephen said. “His current AAU coach is very patient and a natural teacher who is tough on discipline which is exactly what Malachi needed.”

On game days, arguably no one seems as giddy and excited as Stephen who, even while watching his son compete from the stands, he get to witness firsthand a rising young athlete — who, because of his ability to become teachable — is destined to become a household name someday.

Much like Wall, the Wizards’ prized two-time All-Star point guard.

“I always tell him to just keep at it and never quit,” said Stephen, when asked what is among the life’s lessons he offers his son. “The easiest thing you can always do is quit. The sky is the limit for him because I believe he has that “IT.” Whatever that “IT” is, he has “IT.”

And because little Malachi is armed with the proverbial “IT” factor, his father deemed it necessary to enlighten the sports world of a sign of things to come.

“In time, the world will be introduced to him to see “IT” for themselves,” Stephen said.

Stay tuned.

Young Malachi is just starting heating up.

 

DreAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Soulsville basketball standout Andrew Hunt, Jr. lobbying for shot at the collegiate level

 

DREAMIN' DREW --- Coached by former University of Memphis standout and Memphis Grizzlies guard Antonio Burks, Soulsville Charter School swingman Andrew Hunt was a key contributor for a Soulsville team that faced arguably some of the best teams in the Shelby-Metro area. “Andrew is a very hardworking player,” Burks said. “He comes to practices every day and worked hard. He is a leader and team player.” Add to the fact that this speedy, 17-year-old athlete --- who according to Burks, whose skills had drawn comparisons to former NBA player Dennis Rodman --- was deemed one of the gustiest players on the team by coaches, and it’s no wonder that even after a year in which he played sparingly, he hasn’t ruled out hope of playing at the collegiate level.

DREAMIN’ DREW — Coached by former University of Memphis standout and Memphis Grizzlies guard Antonio Burks, Soulsville Charter School swingman Andrew Hunt, Jr. was a key contributor for a Soulsville team that faced arguably some of the best teams in the Shelby-Metro area.
“Andrew is a very hardworking player,” Burks said. “He comes to practices every day and worked hard. He is a leader and team player.”
Add to the fact that this speedy, 17-year-old athlete — who according to Burks, whose skills had drawn comparisons to former NBA player Dennis Rodman — was deemed one of the gustiest players on the team by coaches, and it’s no wonder that even after a year in which he played sparingly, he hasn’t ruled out hope of playing at the collegiate level.

As far as Betina Hunt is concerned, it was a foregone conclusion that her son, Andrew Hunt, Jr., would ultimately have a future in basketball.

After all, not only was Betina Hunt’s father once an accomplished high school hoops coach, but she was a fixture as part of an intramural basketball squad during her college days in the mid-1990s.

“Coming from a sports family, it was a given that he would be an athlete,” Betina Hunt told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I played middle and high school basketball as well.”

To Andrew Hunt’s credit, he essentially has since followed in the footsteps of his mother, considering he managed to make his presence felt in various gymnasiums throughout the basketball-crazed Bluff City.

A 6-foot-1 swingman, Andrew Hunt is a few weeks removed from having completed a prep basketball career for The Soulsville Charter School in South Memphis.

Coached by former University of Memphis standout and Memphis Grizzlies guard Antonio Burks, Andrew Hunt, Jr. was a key contributor for a Soulsville team that faced arguably some of the best teams in the Shelby-Metro area.

“Andrew is a very hardworking player,” Burks said. “He comes to practices every day and worked hard. He is a leader and team player.”

Add to the fact that this speedy, 17-year-old athlete — who according to Burks, whose skills had drawn comparisons to former NBA player Dennis Rodman — was deemed one of the gustiest players on the team by coaches, and it’s no wonder that even after a year in which he played sparingly, he hasn’t ruled out hope of playing at the collegiate level.

In fact, according to Andrew Hunt, Jr. he admittedly is destined to do whatever it takes to suit up in a college basketball uniform.

HOOP DREAMS --- If things ultimately stack up favorably in the coming months for Andrew Hunt --- an honor student who has several offers to enroll in college on an academic scholarship --- the possibility exists that he could very well made good on his lofty ambition of playing college hoops.

HOOP DREAMS — If things ultimately stack up favorably in the coming months for Andrew Hunt, Jr. — an honor student who has several offers to enroll in college on an academic scholarship — the possibility exists that he could very well made good on his lofty ambition of playing college hoops.

“Playing college ball is a dream for me because I always wanted to get a free education at a college or university and use my talent and hard work to excel on the court,” Andrew Hunt, Jr. said. “I love the college game because every game looks like an NBA playoff game with the national media coverage, overly excited fans, the inner anxiety, and the support of my friends and family.”

If things ultimately stack up favorably in the coming months for Andrew Hunt, Jr. — an honor student who has several offers to enroll in college on an academic scholarship — the possibility exists that he could very well made good on his lofty ambition of playing college basketball.

His itinerary, in fact, appears to full, considering he has several scheduled basketball clinics to attend as well as an appearance at the Maximum Exposure Basketball camp in Nashville.

MOM KNOWS BEST --- As far as Betina Hunt is concerned, it was a foregone conclusion that her son, Andrew Hunt, would ultimately have a future in basketball. After all, not only was Betina Hunt’s father once an accomplished high school hoops coach, but she was a fixture as part of an intramural basketball squad during her college days in the mid-1990s. “Coming from a sports family, it was a given that he would be an athlete,” Betina Hunt told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I played middle and high school basketball as well.”

MOM KNOWS BEST — As far as Betina Hunt is concerned, it was a foregone conclusion that her son, Andrew Hunt, would ultimately have a future in basketball.
After all, not only was Betina Hunt’s father once an accomplished high school hoops coach, but she was a fixture as part of an intramural basketball squad during her college days in the mid-1990s.
“Coming from a sports family, it was a given that he would be an athlete,” Betina Hunt told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I played middle and high school basketball as well.”

In addition, Andrew Hunt, Jr. will partake in the popular Maximum Exposure Basketball camp in Atlanta in early May and June and is scheduled to play in an All-Star Celebrity Basketball Game in Memphis that will be sanctioned by the Heal the Hood Foundation of Memphis.

After making appearances at camps at Arkansas Tech in late May and a two-day camp in Clarksdale, Mississippi in late June, Andrew Hunt will earn his much-anticipated diploma from Soulsville on May 21.

Given his immense track record on the local and regional basketball circuits, he’s convinced the possibility exists that he will be afforded the opportunity to extend his basketball career beyond high school — something about which his mother had sensed would happen when he first picked up a basketball.

“He began playing basketball in the second grade,” Betina Hunt said. “My immediate reaction for my son was excitement. He has the opportunity to use basketball as a tool to get a college education as well as do what he has grown to love. Basketball is an investment for his future endeavors for being a sports broadcaster/sportswriter. Being an athlete gives him an advantage for his career.”

Said Andrew Hunt, Jr.: “I am hungry and excited to get to the next level, to accomplish my personal goals, and to fulfill the aspirations of the (college) coaches and the program.”

Stay tuned.

Chances are the local sports landscape hasn’t heard the last of this kid.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

BRIAN ROBINSON, SR.: ‘Here’s wishing you a fabulous 2015 birthday celebration!’

SURPRISE!!!! On behalf of NBA Southwest Division Reporter Andre Johnson and the staff of MemphiSport.com, we extend a colossal birthday shout out to avid Detroit Lions fanatic, Brian Robinson, Sr.!

“Brian, man, you are one of the coolest, most likeable individuals I’ve met since my move to Texas. So it is only befitting that our staff wish you a memorable, joyous, exuberant birthday celebration. You know, Jesus made you a fabulous, life-changing, emphatic promise long before you were conceived. That is, He promised that you might have life and that more abundantly. In a nutshell, even on a day such as your birthday, you are a priesthood, a King’s child. So as you enjoy and embrace everything that this day brings, know that God has strategically recorded every trial, tribulation, and setback you’ve endured to this point. In other words, that means your latter days will be better Bri1than your past!” (John 10:10; Jeremiah 29:11)A. Johnson Bri3

detroit-lions

Ardmore High RB Jordan Roberts embracing life lessons while excelling on the field

Kaniesha Roberts is proud, hardworking single mother of four.

Without question, her son, Jordan Michael Roberts is her go-to child.

COMING OUT PARTY --- While Ardmore (Okla.) High running back Jordan Roberts did not make any starts as a sophomore, he did a masterful job of complementing the dazzling play of Ardmore star running back Orrin Walker in what was his first full season of varsity ball. Having appeared in 10 of the Tigers’ 14 games, Jordan amassed 222 yards on 13 carried and produced three rushing scores.  What was especially impressive about Jordan’s contributions was that he showed no signs of a player who was a newcomer to major high school football, in large part because he averaged 17.1 yards per carry --- attributes Ardmore offensive coordinator Corey Russell believes are a sign of things to come as Jordan prepares for what figures to be a breakthrough junior campaign. (Photos submitted by K. Roberts)

COMING OUT PARTY — While Ardmore (Okla.) High running back Jordan Roberts did not make any starts as a sophomore, he did a masterful job of complementing the dazzling play of Ardmore star running back Orrin Walker in what was his first full season of varsity ball.
Having appeared in 10 of the Tigers’ 14 games, Jordan amassed 222 yards on 13 carried and produced three rushing scores.
What was especially impressive about Jordan’s contributions was that he showed no signs of a player who was a newcomer to major high school football, in large part because he averaged 17.1 yards per carry — attributes Ardmore offensive coordinator Corey Russell believes are a sign of things to come as Jordan prepares for what figures to be a breakthrough junior campaign. (Photos submitted by K. Roberts)

“He had to learn to be the man of the house,” Kaniesha Roberts said during a recent interview. “He helps me with his siblings.”

To get a clear indication of why Jordan’s mother essentially has deemed Jordan — her oldest child — the catalyst of the Roberts household, look no further than the seemingly turbulent encounters that mired the Ardmore (Okla.) High running back in recent years.

For starters, Jordan, who recently wrapped up a stellar sophomore season for the Tigers, had to assume what his mother described as the “man of the house” role, considering his father has been in and out prison virtually his entire life.

Add to the fact that this speedy, talented athlete informed his mother recently that his girlfriend is expecting a child, and it’s no wonder Jordan admittedly has adopted a newfound disposition on life.

STAR WATCH --- Fortunately for Jordan, his attractive height and versatility haven’t gone unnoticed by college scouts, considering the University of Oklahoma are amongst the schools that has expressed interest in him.  Such a recruiting process figures to improve considerably if he keeps doing the necessary things to grasp attention.

STAR WATCH — Fortunately for Jordan, his attractive height and versatility haven’t gone unnoticed by college scouts, considering the University of Oklahoma are amongst the schools that has expressed interest in him.
Such a recruiting process figures to improve considerably if he keeps doing the necessary things to grasp attention.

“When he came and told me he could possibly have a baby on the way, my heart dropped and I explained to him his dreams don’t stop,” Kaniesha Roberts said. “He has family support and God makes no mistakes.”

Although having a baby at such a young age will likely give way to an assortment of challenges, the 16-year-old Jordan would be the first to tell you that such an unlikely encounter has only fueled his competitive drive to excel both on and off the field.

To his credit, the 6-foot, 160-pound rusher held his own in helping propel Ardmore to a 12-2 record, an Oklahoma District 1-5A championship, and a lengthy postseason run this past season.

While he did not make any starts, he did a masterful job of complementing the dazzling play of Ardmore star running back Orrin Walker in what was his first full season of varsity ball.

Having appeared in 10 of the Tigers’ 14 games, Jordan amassed 222 yards on 13 carried and produced three rushing scores.

What was especially impressive about Jordan’s contributions was that he showed no signs of a player who was a newcomer to major high school football, in large part because he averaged 17.1 yards per carry — attributes Ardmore offensive coordinator Corey Russell believes are a sign of things to come as Jordan prepares for what figures to be a breakthrough junior campaign.

“Jordan is one heck of a talent,” Russell said. “He is tall and has solid speed and great hands. Jordan sort of glides with the ball in his hands. He will contribute greatly on offense and defense. I can see Jordan playing at the FCS level.”

While Jordan had proven to be efficient on the offensive side of the ball for the high-powered Tigers, he also enjoyed quality minutes on defense when he assumed the cornerback position, a role he is expected to become more acclimated with next season.

GROWING PAINS --- To get a clear indication of why Jordan’s mother, Kaniesha Roberts, essentially has deemed Jordan --- her oldest child --- the catalyst of the Roberts household, look no further than the seemingly turbulent encounters that mired the Ardmore (Okla.) High running back in recent years.  For starters, Jordan, who recently wrapped up a stellar sophomore season for the Tigers, had to assume what his mother described as the “man of the house” role, considering his father has been in and out prison virtually his entire life. Add to the fact that this speedy, talented athlete informed his mother recently that his girlfriend is expecting a child, and it’s no wonder Jordan admittedly has adopted a newfound disposition on life.

GROWING PAINS — To get a clear indication of why Jordan’s mother, Kaniesha Roberts, essentially has deemed Jordan — her oldest child — the catalyst of the Roberts household, look no further than the seemingly turbulent encounters that mired the Ardmore (Okla.) High running back in recent years.
For starters, Jordan, who recently wrapped up a stellar sophomore season for the Tigers, had to assume what his mother described as the “man of the house” role, considering his father has been in and out prison virtually his entire life.
Add to the fact that this speedy, talented athlete informed his mother recently that his girlfriend is expecting a child, and it’s no wonder Jordan admittedly has adopted a newfound disposition on life.

“I really have the heart for the game and play smart football,” Jordan said. “I work on my game every day from 2-5 p.m. except on Sundays. That’s my rest day.”

Fortunately for Jordan, his attractive height and versatility haven’t gone unnoticed by college scouts, considering the University of Oklahoma are amongst the schools that has expressed interest in him.

Chances are such a recruiting process figures to improve considerably if he keeps doing the necessary things to grasp attention.

“I want to go college and get an education,” Jordan said. “I have a little one on the way and, as my mother did for me, I have to take care of my responsibility. I have to grow up a little faster in life.”

Just like this past season on the field, it’s a monumental challenge Jordan admittedly appears destined to tackle head on.

“I’m ready to take that journey,” said Jordan, alluding to the challenge of being a teenage father. “It’s in God’s plan and I won’t question God. My mom is a single parent of four and she is my No. 1 fan. My family has supported me since day one. I want to give back to my family by succeeding in life and following my dreams, and that’s to play football for life.”

A long-awaited dream that undoubtedly will make a familiar single mother of four one happy camper.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Stephen F. Austin Univ. graduate Michelle Davis chasing broadcast journalism dreams

Michelle Davis, who resides in Irving, Texas, graduated last May from Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio/Television. Having minored in Journalism, Davis --- even after 10 months removed from having completed her undergraduate studies --- boasts lofty aspirations of fulfilling her dream as a broadcast journalist. (Photos submitted by S. Sonii)

DREAM CHASER — Michelle Davis, who resides in Irving, Texas, graduated last May from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio/Television. Having minored in Journalism, Davis — even after 10 months removed from having completed her undergraduate studies — boasts lofty aspirations of fulfilling her dream as a broadcast journalist. (Photos submitted by S. Sonii)

IRVING, Texas — Michelle Davis was in the sixth grade when the September 11 terrorist attacks occurred a little more than 13 years ago.

As if the worst attacks on United States soil transpired yesterday, Davis recalls tuning in frequently to witness the assortment of media reports surrounding a tumultuous encounter that resulted in thousands of deaths.

“And all I remember is that everyone was coming together as one,” Davis said during a recent interview.

While Davis, 25, watched intensely the various developments surrounding what Americans have deemed “9/11,” it simultaneously fueled her desire to someday embark upon a career in the mainstream media industry.

Davis, who resides in Irving, Texas, graduated last May from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio/Television. Having minored in Journalism, Davis — even after 10 months removed from having completed her undergraduate studies — boasts lofty aspirations of fulfilling her dream as a broadcast journalist.

Given the compelling strides she’s made since she bolted Stephen F. Austin, Davis appears destined to someday emerge as a household name much like renowned CNN broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper, among others.

MAKING STRIDES --- As Davis gears toward finding her niche in what many believe is a competitive industry in which journalists are often viewed as celebrities, much her time in the journalism arena is spent shadowing a Dallas-area media member to NBA games at American Airlines Center, where she has the luxury of watching various mainstream media personalities partake in pregame and postgame coverage. So far, Davis has met NBA All-Stars Chris Paul, LeBron James, D’Andre Jordan, Kyrie Irving, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol, among others.

MAKING STRIDES — As Davis gears toward finding her niche in what many believe is a competitive industry in which journalists are often viewed as celebrities, much her time in the journalism arena is spent shadowing a Dallas-area media member to NBA games at American Airlines Center, where she has the luxury of watching various mainstream media personalities partake in pregame and postgame coverage. So far, Davis has met NBA All-Stars Chris Paul, LeBron James, D’Andre Jordan, Kyrie Irving, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol, among others.

 

“I really enjoy watching Anderson Cooper,” Davis said. “He’s not a traditional reporter to me and he always seems to be himself no matter what.”

As Davis gears toward finding her niche in what many believe is a competitive industry in which journalists are often viewed as celebrities, much her time in the journalism arena is spent shadowing a Dallas-area media member to NBA games at American Airlines Center, where she has the luxury of watching various mainstream media personalities partake in pregame and postgame coverage.

So far, Davis has met NBA All-Stars Chris Paul, LeBron James, D’Andre Jordan, Kyrie Irving, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol, among others.

“The thing that has been the most inspiring about covering these NBA games is just being amongst individuals who are into the same things as I and that’s media coverage,” Davis said. “It was a bit overwhelming at first, but everyone seems so willing to give some of their wisdom when the time allowed them to do so.”

SOLID SUPPORT --- As she continues to work diligently toward fulfilling her journalistic dreams, Davis’ mother, Sewei Sonii, said she’s impressed with how her daughter has steadfastly pursued her making her dream of someday being thrust in front of a television camera a reality.  “Words can't describe my feelings I have for my daughter,” Sonii said. “She was the first to graduate from college. Michelle knows how to teach and dance, but mass media is her passion. Whenever people tried to discourage her, that made her work even harder. I know this is the field that she was meant to be in. If there's one thing I know about her, she can do anything she sets her mind to do. It may take hard word, patience and tears, but she will get where she's destined to be in due time.”

SOLID SUPPORT — As she continues to work diligently toward fulfilling her journalistic dreams, Davis’ mother, Sewei Sonii, said she’s impressed with how her daughter has steadfastly pursued her making her dream of someday being thrust in front of a television camera a reality.
“Words can’t describe my feelings I have for my daughter,” Sonii said. “She was the first to graduate from college. Michelle knows how to teach and dance, but mass media is her passion. Whenever people tried to discourage her, that made her work even harder. I know this is the field that she was meant to be in. If there’s one thing I know about her, she can do anything she sets her mind to do. It may take hard word, patience and tears, but she will get where she’s destined to be in due time.”

As Davis continues to cover NBA games, amongst her key objectives is to broaden her reporting, news writing, and interviewing techniques — mechanics that are especially essential for aspiring journalists.

With proper practice and more professional experiences, chances are her journalistic fundamentals will become just sharp and compelling as the pros with whom she aspires to work.

“The thing I love most about the news industry is the fact that it reaches millions all over the world and can sometimes bring us together for a common good,” said Davis, a graduate of L. D. High School in Hurst, Texas.

As she continues to work diligently toward fulfilling her journalistic dreams, Davis’ mother, Sewei Sonii, said she’s impressed with how her daughter has steadfastly pursued her making her dream of someday being thrust in front of a television camera a reality.

“Words can’t describe my feelings I have for my daughter,” Sonii said. “She was the first to graduate from college. Michelle knows how to teach and dance, but mass media is her passion. Whenever people tried to discourage her, that made her work even harder. I know this is the field that she was meant to be in. If there’s one thing I know about her, she can do anything she sets her mind to do. It may take hard word, patience and tears, but she will get where she’s destined to be in due time.”

Much like Davis did before her mother, a native of Monrovia, Liberia, gave birth to her some 2 ½ decades ago.

“Michelle is my third child and my first daughter,” Sonii explained. “My relationship with Michelle started when I was only three weeks pregnant. She literally kept me off my feet for nine months. From then, she let me know that she was here and she was here to stay.”

SNEAK PREVIEW --- Chances are the mainstream media world hasn’t seen the last of David, this vibrant aspiring journalist who, given the commendable strides she’s made in recent months, appears destined to fulfilling her dreams.  “This road hasn’t been easy since Day 1,” said Davis, “But I will continue to apply myself in all areas when it comes to mass communication to get to where I desire to be in the future.”

SNEAK PREVIEW — Chances are the mainstream media world hasn’t seen the last of David, this vibrant aspiring journalist who, given the commendable strides she’s made in recent months, appears destined to fulfilling her dreams.
“This road hasn’t been easy since Day 1,” said Davis, “But I will continue to apply myself in all areas when it comes to mass communication to get to where I desire to be in the future.”

Chances are the mainstream media world hasn’t seen the last of this vibrant aspiring journalist who, given the commendable strides she’s made in recent months, appears destined to fulfilling her dreams.

“This road hasn’t been easy since Day 1,” said Davis, “But I will continue to apply myself in all areas when it comes to mass communication to get to where I desire to be in the future.”

Stay tuned.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Former Kentucky Christian DL JeR’yl Christian aiming to impress pro football scouts

DALLAS — The countdown has begun for JeR’yl Christian to witness the chance of lifetime.

“It’s really a big dream to me because I’ve been playing (football) since the age of five,” Christian, a former Kentucky Christian University defensive lineman, said during a recent interview. “I love the passion of the game and can’t anyone hold me back. I’ve work hard each and every day. I’ve dreamed about this day.”

After auditioning for various CFL teams in the coming days at California University of Pennsylvania, for Kentucky Christian University defensive lineman Jer'yl Christian is scheduled to try out for the CFL’s British Columbia Lions in Seattle on May 17.  For the 24-year-old Christian, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, that he will be afforded the golden opportunity of putting his football skills on display before pro scouts is something he said he will relish for the rest of his life. (Photos courtesy of KCU Athletics)

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ — After auditioning for various CFL teams in the coming days at California University of Pennsylvania, for Kentucky Christian University defensive lineman Jer’yl Christian (No. 49) is scheduled to try out for the CFL’s British Columbia Lions in Seattle on May 17.
For the 24-year-old Christian, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, that he will be afforded the golden opportunity of putting his football skills on display before pro scouts is something he said he will relish for the rest of his life.
(Photos courtesy of KCU Athletics)

The day Christian is alluding to is an organized Canadian Football League tryout at California University of Pennsylvania. Located on 294 acres in the rural establishment of California, Pennsylvania, the school known as “Cal U” is just 35 miles south of Pittsburgh on the banks of the Monongahela River.

According to many who have observed his maturation process on the field, particularly during his collegiate stint, they believe the 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive lineman is worthy of a shot of playing at the professional level, even the NFL. “There is no doubt to me the JeR’yl should get a shot at becoming an NFL player,” said Christian’s longtime mentor Michael McIntyre. “The positive attributes that JeR’yl possesses are what is needed in professional football. His character is one of his strengths that are equaled by his perseverance, talent, and dependability.”

According to many who have observed his maturation process on the field, particularly during his collegiate stint, they believe the 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive lineman is worthy of a shot of playing at the professional level, even the NFL.
“There is no doubt to me the JeR’yl should get a shot at becoming an NFL player,” said Christian’s longtime mentor Michael McIntyre. “The positive attributes that JeR’yl possesses are what is needed in professional football. His character is one of his strengths that are equaled by his perseverance, talent, and dependability.”

After auditioning in the coming days at Cal U, Christian is scheduled to try out for the CFL’s British Columbia Lions in Seattle on May 17.

For the 24-year-old Christian, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, that he will be afforded the golden opportunity of putting his football skills on display before pro scouts is something he said he will relish for the rest of his life.

According to many who have observed his maturation process on the field, particularly during his collegiate stint, they believe the 6-foot-2, 265-pound defensive lineman is worthy of a shot of playing at the professional level, even the NFL.

“There is no doubt to me the JeR’yl should get a shot at becoming an NFL player,” said Christian’s longtime mentor Michael McIntyre. “The positive attributes that JeR’yl possesses are what is needed in professional football. His character is one of his strengths that are equaled by his perseverance, talent, and dependability.”

After a stellar high school career in which he had drawn interests from a host of Division 1 colleges, Christian ultimately decided to take his football talents to Akron University. However, following a red shirt year and the subsequent firing of Akron’s coaching staff, Christian transferred to Kentucky Christian, where he enjoyed three efficient seasons for the NAIA member Knights.

To his credit, Christian helped propelled the Knights to a 5-6 mark this past season, a two-game improvement from the previous year.

Arguably his most productive season at KCU was his junior campaign, which was a coming out party, of sorts, for Christian. That’s because he emerged as a catalyst of the Knights’ defensive unit, having recorded a team-best 57 tackles, including 13 ½ of which was for lost yardage.

LEAST HE FORGET --- As he prepares for what undoubtedly is the biggest opportunity of his young life, Christian credits a majority of success to his late grandmother, Barbara June Gardner, who looked after him since birth.  Gardner, who was legally blind, died of a heart attack last year on March 18.

LEAST HE FORGET — As he prepares for what undoubtedly is the biggest opportunity of his young life, Christian credits a majority of success to his late grandmother, Barbara June Gardner, who looked after him since birth.
Gardner, who was legally blind, died of a heart attack last year on March 18.

Add to the fact that this rugged defensive lineman — who garnered preseason All-American honors — recorded 5 ½ sacks and had three forced fumbles, and it’s no wonder the possibility exists that many believe his best playing days are ahead of him.

As he prepares for what undoubtedly is the biggest opportunity of his young life, Christian credits a majority of success to his late grandmother, Barbara June Gardner, who looked after him since birth.

Gardner, who was legally blind, died of a heart attack last year on March 18.

REMEMBERING BARB --- Christian's current Facebook profile photo features artwork of him and his late grandmother.

REMEMBERING BARB — Christian’s current Facebook profile photo features artwork of him and his late grandmother.

“It really broke my heart,” Christian said of his grandmother’s death. “But I know she’s here with me throughout everything. I just want a chance to prove that I can play at any level.”

His golden opportunity will take place in the coming days which, according to him, is a chance of a lifetime that is.

Let the countdown begin.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.