Memphian Brenda Swift is swiftly becoming a rising success as ‘The Water Lady’ for Xooma Worldwide

MAKING SWIFT MOVESHaving been dubbed an “A Type personality,” Memphian Brenda Swift acknowledges that she never shied away from placing her total trust in God, a life-enhancing trend, a pivotal, gut-checking lifestyle, of sorts, that greatly fueled her desire to start a business venture. To her credit, it is a business concept whereby many from all walks of life can benefit.
Swift, 51, is a national manager for Xooma Worldwide, a global company that has mightily afforded her with the keen ability to create her own company.

Brenda Swift is a proud alumna of Fairley High School in Memphis’ historic Whitehaven district.

After graduating from high school, where amongst her grandest achievements were being named a beauty queen as well as a thriving dancer while simultaneously starring on the tennis squad, being a member of the choir and various other clubs — mostly notably the Debutante — Swift took her immense talents to nearby Tennessee State University in Nashville.

While in college, she was nothing short of impressive, nothing short of successful it seemed, considering she ultimately became a lifetime member of the flagship Greek organization, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

During her illustrious journey to possessing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications/Speech And Theatre, amongst Swift’s notable accolades were having won an array of public speaking awards, all while making her presence felt in a number of stage plays.

Yes, life, as she knew it, was memorable and enjoyable to say the least.

But just as she once found herself living and basking in the glow on the larger side of God, Swift had to endure and see and consult her Creator amid life’s most challenging of obstacles.

A SWIFT SUCCESS STORYA devout Christian and dedicated mother, Swift admittedly has been victimized by Multiple Sclerosis, a diagnosis that spans for more than a decade.
A little more than 13 years to be technical.
“The disease tried to rob me of my life,” Swift told News Reporter Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I was bedridden, couldn’t stand without shaking nor walk.”

A devout Christian and dedicated mother, Swift admittedly has been victimized by Multiple Sclerosis, a diagnosis that spans for more than a decade.

A little more than 13 years to be technical.

“The disease tried to rob me of my life,” Swift told News Reporter Andre Johnson during a recent interview. “I was bedridden, couldn’t stand without shaking nor walk.”

Still, in spite of the slew of physical challenges that essentially surfaced to test and try her faith, Swift, to her credit, clung to unwavering faith.

So much, in fact, that with God, her Helper leading the way, she managed to persevere and eventually defied the odds of a disease she sensed would alter her life for all the wrong reasons.

But God…

Having been dubbed an “A Type personality,” Swift acknowledges that she never shied away from placing her total trust in God, a life-enhancing trend, a pivotal, gut-checking lifestyle, of sorts, that greatly fueled her desire to start a business venture.

To her credit, it is a business concept whereby many from all walks of life can benefit.

Swift, 51, is a national manager for Xooma Worldwide, a global company that has mightily afforded her with the keen ability to create her own company.

In addition, she is owner of Swift Health And Wellness Distribution.

FOLLOW BRENDA SWIFT’S BUSINESS ONLINE: http://swiftshealthandwellnessdistribution.com/.

As Swift, widely known as “The Water Lady,” is swift to say, her newfound business has undoubtedly changed the overall landscape of her life.

“The Xooma products have changed my life,” Swift said. “I have been given a second chance as a disabled individual to continue to be a viable asset to my community.”

While she says that “no one” inspired her to start my company, Swift was quick to point out that she’s mostly appreciative of her husband, Kevin Clay, and her mother who, even after having gift birth to her a teenager in the 1960s, she had has a monumental impact on her life.

MORE ON BRENDA SWIFT: https://youtu.be/Ki8AgV0w4YM.

How else to explain why’s she managed to tackle and conquer her battle with Multiple Sclerosis?

“I guess the disease did (challenge me) and it’s all the positive influences I’ve had in my life along the way,” said Swift, who’s also a longtime ordained minister. “Starting with my mother, who was a teenage mother in the 60s who decided to keep and raise her baby, I thank God for her and for my stepfather. It is their wisdom and examples of hard work and the belief and wisdom of a strong praying grandmother that were my examples. I was also blessed with guidance counselors and teachers that were a positive influence in my life.”

As a result to her life-changing and life-impacting influences, Swift — even a flourishing business owner — deems it necessary to pass along her wealth of knowledge to others.

Especially through her fledging business venture.

“I would encourage everyone from any early age to invest in their health,” Swift said. “It’s your life and you are responsible for it. “God gave us a mind. We have to use it.”

Spoken like the true, big-hearted fighter for which she is widely known.



MrJohnsonEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Is rising playwright and progressive actress Renii Charleston Memphis’ best kept secret?

BUT GOD

To Renii Charleston’s recollection, she was once a self-proclaimed procrastinator, particularly with regards to achieving goals and maximizing her potential.

Surely, we all have our share of life-changing issues, these seemingly distracting stumbling blocks we seldom encounter that could greatly disrupt or delay the purpose for which God created us.

Renii Charleston, of all people, can greatly attest to this notion.

In fact, to her recollection, Charleston was once a self-proclaimed procrastinator, particularly with regards to achieving goals and maximizing her potential.

Then one day, just like that, her proverbial light bulb moment flashed right before her very eyes.

In a nutshell, Charleston began writing.

And writing some more.

And writing some more.

STAR WATCHToday, to her credit and unlike never before, Charleston is a rising Memphis-based playwright, producer, and actress.
Given the immense strides she’s made in recent years, it’s safe to assume that her best and brightest days in this ever-so-evolving industry are well ahead of her. Photo by Darren Catron

So much so that this 44-year-old native of Chicago ultimately began to witness her craft, let alone her dreams become a reality.

Today, to her credit and unlike never before, Charleston is a rising Memphis-based owner  playwright, producer, actress and, most notably, owner and chief executive officer of DREAMTYME Productions.

Given the immense strides she’s made in recent years, it’s safe to assume that her best and brightest days in this ever-so-evolving industry are well ahead of her.

By and large, she has no one but her Creator to thank, no one to whom to pay homage moreso than God, Who thought enough of her to order her steps, thus strategically steer her in the right direction.

RENII SPEAKS“Over the years I have watched several playwrights such as David Talbert and Tyler Perry to name a few who have inspired me to divorce procrastination and to write this play and start writing those books, etc.” Photo by Darren Catron

“Over the years I have watched several playwrights such as David Talbert and Tyler Perry to name a few who have inspired me to divorce procrastination and to write this play and start writing those books, etc.,” Charleston told News Reporter Andre Johnson during a recent interview.

The play to which Charleston is alluding is her much-anticipated stage project called, “Dare to Dream,” a well-orchestrated and eloquently-written and designed play that was assembled largely to give hope, empower, and to spread the underlying message that “dreams do come true,” as Charleston is swift to point out.

FOLLOW RENII’S DREAMTYME PRODUCTION ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/dreamtymeproductions/info/?tab=page_info.

Moreover, Charleston said, this premiere event — which will take place July 23-24 at 5 p.m. daily at Fairley High’s Performing Arts Center — will challenge individuals socially and culturally, thus inspire people from various walks of life to dream “outside of the box.”

A catalyst for positive, “Dare to Dream” possesses the power to alter decisions, ignite growth, and ultimately change lives, according to a spokesperson for the hit play.

“We are looking for individuals, businesses, and organizations to help us make this event truly special for our community,” said Charleston, who’s widely known also as a hairstylist, mentee coordinator, and dance instructor. “(A variety of) media coverage, sponsorships, and/or contributions will help us to put on this production on a major platform. It will also afford you the opportunity to target potential individuals that may not be captured in your current communities, church services, or promotional campaigns.”

More than anything, Charleston acknowledged, her stage play could very well have a monumental impact on the community, especially throughout a Memphis-metropolitan area that has been plagued by crime this year.

“It will also spotlight your community involvement and provide you with strong visibility in the communities of your potential audiences, which can mean additional support and possible membership,” Charleston said. “It is our goal to make our association with (our audience) a positive one, in promoting their participation and publicly expressing our appreciation.”

A mother of one biological child and a foster mother to her nephew, Charleston’s reputation is such that she’s always been devoted to ensuring that her craft as a playwright would ultimately come full circle.
FOLLOW RENII CHARLESTON: www.reniicharleston.com.

Given her continuous success of late, there’s no doubt she appears well on her way of savoring even more success as an actress.

“The importance of investing in people is a model that even our national leaders can’t deny,” Charleston, whose acting resume includes having appeared in two movies, said. “Because someone invested in me, I’ve had the honor of working with prestigious writers, producers, and directors in Memphis.”

In essence, nonetheless, she will be the first to tell you that her overall objective in her increasingly successful career is mightily enable others to maximize their potential, thus making their dreams a reality.

Talk about being committed to giving back and remembering where she came from.

”My biggest expectation is to give hope, empower, encourage, and change lives, causing individuals to launch out into the depths of the unknown and make their dreams come true,” Charleston said.

After all, she, of all people, can greatly attest to this notion.



MrJohnsonEDITOR’S NOTE: If you are an entrepreneur, business owner, producer, author, musician, barber, life coach, motivational speaker, cosmetologist, tax preparer, model, athlete, or pastor/minister who is seeking exposure and would like to share your story with an in-depth news feature, call Reporter Andre Johnson at 901-690-6587 or Facebook message him under “Andre T. Johnson” for details.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

 

Former prep baseball standout Kali Payton III thriving as a motivational speaker

KaliLike a number of his peers, Kali Payton III would be the first to tell you he has endured his share of hardships and turmoil.

For starters, Payton was raised in what he describes as one of America’s most dangerous, poverty-stricken establishments, the John DeShields housing projects in East St, Louis, Illinois.

And, as a youngster — eight years old to be exact — he and his family wound up on the wrong side of some horrific news when word spread that his father was murdered.

Fast forward to a few years later, Payton still found himself having to weather an assortment of tumultuous encounters — occurrences that given how much this vibrant 33-year-old ex-military veteran has flourished in recent years, is valid proof why he has steadfastly taken on a newfound disposition on life.

“I have failed in business nine times and lost two homes to foreclosure. I celebrated my 21st birthday in Afghanistan in 2002,” said Payton, an Air Force veteran, said during a recent interview.

Fortunately for Payton, a former East St. Louis High baseball standout, his slew of obstacles are what ultimately inspired him to assume yet another venture, one that undoubtedly will enhance and aid others to maximize their potential.

A resident of Fayetteville, North Carolina, Payton is a Motivational Speaker and Life/Business Coach for Kali Is Speaking, an endeavor that has benefited him mightily, considering he has emerged as a fixture in various establishments across the country.

To his credit, Payton has spoken and his put his motivational skills on display in places such as his native home state of Illinois, North Carolina, and Florida, among others — a list that figures to expand in the foreseeable future.

A former East St. Louis All-Star catcher who wore former Major Leaguer Mike Piazza’s jersey number, Payton acknowledges that his competitive drive through baseball essentially fueled his desire to become a motivational speaker and life coach.

Among the reasons is that in spite of the array of curve balls life has often dealt him, he says that isn’t a reason for individuals — especially those from downtrodden communities like him — to live beneath their privileges.

“I had raw talent as a power hitter,” Payton explains. “But as the competition increased, my effectiveness decreased. I just couldn’t figure out why. Then my high school coach, Mr. Brown, taught me that I didn’t need to lead the team in home runs but in RBI’s. I batted clean up, so it was my job to make enough contact to make sure other players advance and either score or get in position to score.

“What I do in my business today is the exact same thing,” Payton continued. “I use my life experiences to help others advance or position themselves to reach their destinations. What I love most is knowing that I was chosen to impact the lives of others in a positive way. It blows my mind each time I think about it.”

Arguably Payton’s single, most underlying objective as a motivational speaker and life coach is to empower others to connect with their life’s work — or their purpose, of sorts — a life-changing attribute that was instilled in him by his godfather, Lee Coleman II.

“He inspired me to live out my full potential and serve humanity with my whole heart,” Payton said.

Fortunately for Payton, he’s savoring the purpose for which he was created, considering his latest endeavor is starting to come full circle, thus embraced by countless individuals in the Fayetteville area and other portions of the country.

Among the reasons is that Payton conducts a weekly class at nearby Jesus Peace Ministries in Fayetteville, which is an economic empowerment session for people who aspire to become entrepreneurs.

As for his itinerary, he is scheduled to teach youths on how to overcome the fear of public speaking as part of a Spring Break camp that is scheduled for April 6-10.

Given the success he has enjoyed in recent years, it’s safe to assume that Payton has adjusted comfortably as a motivational speaker and life coach, in large part because he has functioned in such a commendable role for two years. Aside from that, he has been an accomplished licensed minster for nearly nine years, an accolade that has contributed greatly to his latest endeavor.

In other words, Payton doesn’t shy away from the notion that he welcomes putting his skills on display before sizable crowds. Given the adversities he has managed to conquer during his life, he’d be the first to admit that he was built to handle such work.

“I just don’t believe any person should live a life that they are not happy with,” Payton said. “We are all created for the same thing…to serve humanity. Serve with our gifts, talents, and abilities with the sole purpose of gaining resources that will expand our platform. Ultimately, we must press repeat and do it all over again…a simple reason of why we all exist.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on Kali Is Speaking or to contact him for a speaking engagement, check out Kali Payton III at:

www.regeneratemypurpose.com

https://m.facebook.com/KaliIsSpeaking

Instagram.com/Kali_Is_Speaking

Twitter.com/KaliIsSpeaking

https://www.linkedin.com/pub/kali-a-payton-iii/71/a27/627

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.

Dallas-area dual-sport athlete Demonte Greene thriving with help of dad

HUGE ASSIST — To get a thoroughly understanding of why Lamont Green partakes in customary pregame rituals while preparing to witness his son play the game he’s come to embrace, look no further than the strides little Demonte has made in his brief time on the amateur hoops circuit.
For starters, Demonte played integral role in helping propel the Dallas NorthStars 10-and-under AAU squad to a recent championship. While assuming the shooting guard position, Demonte has gone to great lengths to demonstrate why good sportsmanship and fine-tuning his fundamentals are essential with regards to flourishing as a young athlete. (Photos submitted by L. Greene)

DALLAS — Oftentimes, Lamont Greene admittedly has to listen to music while preparing to watch his son, 10-year-old amateur basketball player, Demonte Greene, in action.

That’s not all he does.

“Well game day usually consists of breakfast, music to get the mind right while getting dressed, and prepared for the game with a small prayer too bless the game, and a moment of silence to regroup and focus on the task at hand,” Lamont Greene said during a recent interview.

To get a thoroughly understanding of why Lamont Green partakes in customary pregame rituals while preparing to witness his son play the game he’s come to embrace, look no further than the strides little Demonte has made in his brief time on the amateur hoops circuit.

A student at nearby Birdie Alexander Elementary, Demonte says his favorite basketball player is LeBron James while his top football player of Dez Bryant. According this thriving, vibrant athlete, it is the continuous success of these two professional athletes that essentially has fueled his desire to broaden his horizon as a youth athlete.

For starters, Demonte played integral role in helping propel the Dallas NorthStars 10-and-under AAU squad to a recent championship. While assuming the shooting guard position, Demonte has gone to great lengths to demonstrate why good sportsmanship and fine-tuning his fundamentals are essential with regards to flourishing as a young athlete.

A dual-sport athlete that is.

Two-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP LeBron James is Demonte’s favorite basketball player.

“I’m so thrilled that Monte has be playing with (the NorthStars) for couple years now,” Lamont said. “That’s why their team is so special. The play football together as well. They are all on the same team, winning the championships in both basketball and football.”

A student at nearby Birdie Alexander Elementary, Demonte says his favorite basketball player is LeBron James while his top football player of Dez Bryant. According this thriving, vibrant athlete, it is the continuous success of these two professional athletes that essentially has fueled his desire to broaden his horizon as a youth athlete.

“He tells me all the time to do things right the first time all the time,” said, Demonte, when asked what is the most advice given him by his father. “He tells me that, ‘If you live like that eventually it becomes natural to you.”

Demonte relishes the fact that when he suits up for competition, his father is a few yards away in the stands cheering him on, steadfastly proving yet again that he undoubtedly is his grandest supporter.

“My dad comes to every game and pushes me to get better,” Demonte said. “He makes me workout on my own time, makes me take part in all type of drills.”

Like his father, Demonte also acknowledges that among the reasons he’s enjoying success as a rising accomplished athlete is that his coaches have done the necessary strategies to ensure he and his teammates demonstrate solid sportsmanship, let alone a resilient work ethic as a unit whether on the hardwood or gridiron.

Dallas Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant is Demonte’s No. 1 football player.

“Coach West and Coach Delone are great coaches and motivators,” Lamont said. “They bring the best out of Monte.”

As for the pivotal life lessons he routinely instills in his son, well, such trends undoubtedly begin in the home, Lamonte said.

“Life lessons…well I teach him to be a man, be respectful, honest, a man of God, be a leader, develop good work, and develop study habits,” Lamonte said. “That means grades first and student athlete second. There’s plenty of room to grow being so young and talented. He also has a great family base and support to keep his head right mentally and spiritually.”

All of which of course, is why his beloved father look forward to his customary pregame rituals on game day for little Demonte.

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.

Longtime SCS supervisor Betty Pegues uses life’s lessons to start cleaning business

DUNCANVILLE, Texas — While growing up in the heart of North Memphis, Saturday mornings in the household where Betty Pegues resided were virtually foreseeable.

TREND SETTER --- Fortunately for Betty Pegues, the professional relationships she has built throughout her career for SCS has given way to more success, particularly as a thriving business owner.  As chief operating officer of Affordable Cleaning Services, Pegues’ current client is Cricket Communications in which licensed, bonded, and insured business provides service for three locations throughout the Memphis metropolitan area.  (Photos submitted by W. Pegues)

TREND SETTER — Fortunately for Betty Pegues, the professional relationships she has built throughout her career for SCS has given way to more success, particularly as a thriving business owner.
As chief operating officer of Affordable Cleaning Services, Pegues’ current client is Cricket Communications in which licensed, bonded, and insured business provides service for three locations throughout the Memphis metropolitan area.
(Photos submitted by W. Pegues)

Watch her mother, Vernice Johnson, cook breakfast.

Watch wrestling with father, Edward Johnson, Sr.

Clean the house.

Especially clean the house.

The third oldest of 15 children, Pegues was often thrust as the ringleader with regards to ensuring that she and siblings fulfilled their regular responsibilities of keeping a three-bed room house tidy.

“I came from a large household,” Pegues said during a recent interview. “But our house was one of the cleanest on the street.”

To her credit, while being raised mostly in a Christian environment in which attending church on Sundays and learning life’s toughest of lessons were essentially traditionally for what has always been a close-knit family, Pegues deemed it necessary to adopt clean establishments as a lifestyle, of sorts.

A veteran employee for Shelby County Schools (formerly Memphis City Schools) in which she is currently the plant manager for Germanshire Elementary, Pegues, 55, has blossomed into arguably one of the school system’s most sought-after and well-respected facility supervisors.

For starters, Pegues’ track record is such that she has proven to be an award-winning SCS employee, having garnered recognition for High Quality Performance during an SCS career that spans nearly 30 years. Add to the fact that her work has been so frequently recognized and applauded by her employers, that former Westwood High principal Michael Smith in 2004 said he would relocate across town to Kirby High on one condition: if Pegues would come along with him.

PROVEN LEADER --- The third oldest of 15 children, Pegues was often thrust as the ringleader with regards to ensuring that she and siblings fulfilled their regular responsibilities of keeping a two-bed room house clean.  “I came from a large household,” Pegues said during a recent interview. “But our house was one of the cleanest on the street.”

PROVEN LEADER — The third oldest of 15 children, Pegues was often thrust as the ringleader with regards to ensuring that she and siblings fulfilled their regular responsibilities of keeping a three-bed room house clean.
“I came from a large household,” Pegues said during a recent interview. “But our house was one of the cleanest on the street.”

“He’d always tell (school officials), ‘This is my very fine engineer, Mrs. Pegues,’” said Pegues, explaining her success in having built a solid rapport with her former boss. “He always said, ‘Look at these floors because she and staff were responsible for cleaning them.’ He said, ‘If it weren’t for the chemicals she put on them, you could eat off them.’”

Fortunately for Pegues, the professional relationships she has built throughout her career for SCS has given way to more success, particularly as a thriving business owner.

As chief operating officer of Affordable Cleaning Services, Pegues’ current client is Cricket Communications in which her licensed, bonded, and insured business provides service for three locations throughout the Memphis metropolitan area.

According to Pegues, Cora Bailey, an acquaintance who manages one of the local Cricket stores, inspired her to erect her own cleaning business, informing her that there might perhaps be a need for services for several Memphis-area corporate offices.

Consequently, Pegues began to devises plans to start Affordable Cleaning. By mid-March of last year, she had signed her first contract with a client.

WE ARE FAMILY --- A mother of two, Betty Pegues’ daughter, Tiffany Johnson (left), 39, is a 1994 graduate of Whitehaven High. Her son, Andre Johnson, 40, a 1993 Whitehaven High and 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis, resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is an NBA reporter.

WE ARE FAMILY — A mother of two, Betty Pegues’ daughter, Tiffany Johnson (left), 39, is a 1994 graduate of Whitehaven High. Her son, Andre Johnson, 40, a 1993 Whitehaven High and 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis, resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is an NBA reporter.

A business that recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, Affordable Cleaning specializes in a variety of services, most notably floor stripping and waxing, shower scrubbing, carpet shampooing and cleaning, and cleanings upon move-ins and move-outs.

While her establishment has been in operations for a year, Pegues emphasized that her experience in detail cleaning dates back to her days when she was hired for the local school system.

“We promote customer satisfaction all the time,” Pegues, a 1977 graduate of Kingsbury High, said. “We make sure our customers are pleased.”

Pleased and satisfied much like her parents during her days of growing up in North Memphis.

“My foundation was when I started cleaning at home,” Pegues explains. “I take pride in what I do. And I love what I do.”

Among the reasons Pegues has gained a passion for her work is that she says the biggest misperception people have about cleaning is that they think cleaning with their hands is beneath them.

“People don’t understand,” she said. “They think you shouldn’t like cleaning up. But I take pride in what I do.”

Such a trend, she acknowledges, has prompted others to buy into her longstanding vision as a rising entrepreneur.

“We are a superb cleaning business,” said William Pegues, Betty’s husband of 17 years who works alongside her.

DREAM CLEAN TEAM --- Such a trend, she acknowledges, has prompted others to buy into her longstanding vision as rising entrepreneur.  “We are a superb cleaning business,” said William Pegues, Betty’s husband of 17 years who works alongside her.

DREAM CLEAN TEAM — Such a trend, she acknowledges, has prompted others to buy into her longstanding vision as rising entrepreneur.
“We are a superb cleaning business,” said William Pegues, Betty’s husband of 17 years who works alongside her.

Betty Pegues has been a plant manager for SCS since 2002, a stint that includes tenures at Westwood High (2002-2004), Kirby High (2004-2007), Riverview Elementary (2007-2008), and Germanshire, where she’s worked for the past seven years.

A mother of two, Betty Pegues’ daughter, Tiffany Johnson, 39, is a 1994 graduate of Whitehaven High. Her son, Andre Johnson, 40, a 1993 Whitehaven High and 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis, resides in Dallas, Texas, where he is an NBA reporter.

Despite an SCS career that spans nearly three decades, she credits a majority of her success to her mother and late father, who passed away in June 2008.

“They were really the beginning for me,” Betty Pegues said. “Had they not taught me how to clean and to do it correctly, I don’t think I’d be as successful as I am. I pretty much know what to look for when I go into a business. I know what to look for and my staff knows what to look for. I have high standards.”

Standards that, to her credit, were birthed long ago in the confines of a three-bedroom house in the heart of North Memphis.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information or a free estimate through Affordable Cleaning, call Betty Pegues at 901-351-3251 or email her at: [email protected] Also, call William Pegues at 901-494-1696.

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.

 

Univ. of Southwest basketball standout Anitria Flowers aiming to attract pro scouts

BLOSSOMING FLOWER --- Anitria Flowers, a junior college transfer and the University of Southwest's second-tallest player, was the catalyst of a team that made continuous stride this season. (Photos courtesy of USW Athletics)

BLOSSOMING FLOWER — Anitria Flowers, a junior college transfer and the University of Southwest’s second-tallest player, was the catalyst of a team that made continuous stride this season. (Photos courtesy of USW Athletics)

DALLAS — When logging on to the University of Southwest’s women’s basketball website, the first photo you’ll see is that of Anitria Flowers.

Flowers, a junior college transfer and the Lady Mustangs’ second-tallest player, is the catalyst of a team that made continuous strides this season.

Southwest’s season ended in Red River Athletic Conference loss to nationally-ranked Our Lady Of The Lake University April 28. While the Lady Mustangs’ 6-26 campaign suggests, among other things that they struggled considerably this year, in essence, it was a season in which Southwest first-year coach Jamene Caldwell’s team is building for the future.

That future, by all accounts, will surely involve Flowers, a 5-foot-11 combo guard who figures to help steer the team in the right direction for what she pledges will be a memorable senior campaign next.

A player whose favorite quote — at least according to Southwest’s website — is, “Talent is God given. Be humble, fame is manmade. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful,” Flowers doesn’t shy away from the notion that she’s destined to not only help propel the Lady Mustangs from years of futility, but she’s also vows to attract the attention of WNBA scouts and general managers by the time she finishes her collegiate hoops career.

Having transferred to Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico after a stellar two-year stint at Howard Junior College, Flowers wasted little time making her presence for a Lady Mustang team that finished the season on a favorable note when it won two of its final three outings.

Having transferred to Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico after a stellar two-year stint at Howard Junior College, Flowers wasted little time making her presence for a Lady Mustang team that finished the season on a favorable note when it won two of its final three outings.

Having transferred to USW in Hobbs, New Mexico after a stellar two-year stint at Howard Junior College in nearby Big Spring, Texas, Flowers wasted little time making her presence felt for a Lady Mustang team that finished the season on a favorable note when it won two of its final three outings.

A speedy two-way guard, Flowers was aggressive on both ends of the floor for USW, especially on the offensive end, where even as the team’s floor general and facilitator, she appeared assertive against elite talent, penetrating hard to the basket much like she did during her days of running the show as a prep standout for Sundown High in Texas.

“I love basketball because it’s a sport that you can control the outcome and it is structured but you have freedom to show what you can do,” Flowers said during a recent interview. “I have always loved basketball and always will. When I’m on the court whether in practice or a game or just shooting around nothing else matters and it’s just peaceful.”

Because she often presented match-up problems for the opposition, Flowers evolved as one of USW’s most efficient defenders, often hustling her way for block shots and steals — key attributes Caldwell’s believes undoubtedly will be signs of things to come next year.

“Anitria has progressed tremendously during the course of just this season alone,” Caldwell said. “I cannot attest to her work previously to my arriving at USW since this is my first year. However, in the short amount of time that I have been privilege to coach Anitria, she has developed into an aggressive offensive player that can really score at will. She is also one of the best shot blockers I have had the opportunity to coach. She is what I call a quiet assassin on the court. At the end of it, you don’t even realize how her stat line completely changed the game. I know she will (work hard) throughout the summer and into next season and she will be ready for an unforgettable senior year.”

A speedy two-way guard, Flowers was aggressive on both ends of the floor for Southwest, especially on the offensive end, where even as the team’s floor general and facilitator, she appeared assertive against elite talent, penetrating hard to the basket much like she did during her days of running the show as a prep standout for Sundown High in Texas.

A speedy two-way guard, Flowers was aggressive on both ends of the floor for Southwest, especially on the offensive end, where even as the team’s floor general and facilitator, she appeared assertive against elite talent, penetrating hard to the basket much like she did during her days of running the show as a prep standout for Sundown High in Texas.

Among Flowers’ grandest supporters has been her mother, Michelle Flowers. A current resident of Sundown, Texas who often travels hundreds of miles to witness her daughter in action.

“The first time she picked up the basketball, it’s like she had a built in naturalness for the sport and I knew then she would do great things in basketball,” Michelle Flowers said. “When it’s game day I wake up pumped and ready to go, I’m anxious all day because I’m ready to see her play. I love every minute watching her play as a child. Her senior year (of high school) I went to every game. When I found out she was going to play college ball, I smiled from ear to ear and told her she deserved it because she worked so hard to get there. She lives in the gym even when she comes home for weekend and holiday visits. I’m beyond happy for her. I want to see her excel in life.”

As she prepares for what figures to be a memorable senior season, Anitria Flowers’ primary objective, she said, will remain the same.

That is, she pledges to leave it all out on the floor, thus make her mother proud, just as she’s done since she first reached for a basketball at five years of age.

PRO HOOPS MATERIAL? A player whose favorite quote --- at least according to Southwest’s website --- is, "Talent is God given. Be humble, fame is manmade.  Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful," Flowers doesn’t shy away from the notion that she’s destined to not only help propel the Lady Mustangs from years of futility, but she’s also vows to attract the attention of WNBA scouts and general managers by the time she finishes her collegiate career.

PRO HOOPS MATERIAL? A player whose favorite quote — at least according to Southwest’s website — is, “Talent is God given. Be humble, fame is manmade. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful,” Flowers doesn’t shy away from the notion that she’s destined to not only help propel the Lady Mustangs from years of futility, but she’s also vows to attract the attention of WNBA scouts and general managers by the time she finishes her collegiate career.

“I will graduate college with my criminal Justice Degree and continue to work hard in the gym to better myself so I have a chance to play at the professional level,” Anitria Flowers said. “My mother has very proud of my grades all throughout school and I’ll continue to keep them up and make her happy. I always keep in touch with my family and that is something that is a must. Family is so important to me. Without them it’s difficult to accomplish all that I already have.”

Stay tuned. Chances are the college basketball world hasn’t seen the last of this kid.

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.

 

 

Cakes and Cuppycakes owner Tina Moore providing delectable treats to consumers

RISING ENTREPRENEUR --- Tina Shirelle Moore is a Mississippi Valley State University graduate and owner and operator of Cake and Cuppycakes, a business she lauched just six months ago. Although her business has been in operations for such a brief time, Moore is starting to witness it flourish to immense heights, in large part because she found her niche as an avid baker nearly three decades ago. (Photos submitted my T. Moore)

RISING ENTREPRENEUR — Tina Shirelle Moore is a Mississippi Valley State University graduate and owner and operator of Cake and Cuppycakes, a business she lauched just six months ago. Although her business has been in operations for such a brief time, Moore is starting to witness it flourish to immense heights, in large part because she found her niche as an avid baker nearly three decades ago. (Photos submitted my T. Moore)

For those who don’t know Tina Shirelle Moore, allow her to introduce herself.

Moore is a native of Greenwood, Mississippi, a small, rural that is approximately two hours from Memphis.

Surprisely, Moore once played basketball for Greenwood High, from where she graduated in the mid-1990s.

As Moore recalls, occupying the point guard position enabled her to adopt what she describes as a “competitive drive” to excel in various aspects of life.

“That was so many years ago,” Moore told MemphiSport on Thursday. “I had the drive and the push in me to go forward. I knew that I could do anything if I set my mind to.”

For Moore, a 37-year-old mother of two who resides in Olive Branch, Mississippi, she has always demonstrated the keen ability to broaden her horizons, regardless of how insurrmountable challenges and obstacles appeared to have become.

The price ranges for cakes are $25 and up, for cuppycakes $8 and up.

The price ranges for cakes are $25 and up, for cuppycakes $8 and up.

RAPID SUCCESS --- Customers, as it turned out, have steadfastly bought into Moore’s unique style of baking, producing an assortment of desserts to quinch their occasional sweet tooth.

RAPID SUCCESS — Customers, as it turned out, have steadfastly bought into Moore’s unique style of baking, producing an assortment of desserts to quinch their occasional sweet tooth.

A Serology Technician for Antech Diagnostics, Moore is a little more than a year removed from having earned her doctorate degree in Environmental Science from Jackson State University. While she undoubtedly is reaping the benefits of her solid work ethic in her current endeavor, Moore is now starting to witness her business venture come full circle.

Moore is owner and operator of Cake and Cuppycakes, a business she lauched just six months ago. Although her business has been in operations for such a brief time, Moore is starting to witness it flourish to immense heights, in large part because she found her niche as an avid baker nearly three decades ago.

In a nutshell, it’s safe to assume that people embraced wholeheartedly her craft long before she gave any tought of starting her business.

“I’ve been baking since I was nine years old,” Moore said. “I started this as a business February 1, 2014. “Consumers embrace my business by being repeat customers and referring me to their friends, family, and coworkers.”

Customers, as it turned out, have steadfastly bought into Moore’s unique style of baking, producing an assortment of desserts to quinch their occasional sweettooth.
Not only that, consumers routinely have the luxury of placing orders for parties, office meetings, banquets, holiday gatherings, and birthdays, all at affordable prices.

The price ranges for cakes are $25 and up, for cuppycakes $8 and up.

GREEN PASTURES --- Given the rapid success Moore has enjoyed in such a brief time since starting her business, no doubt Cakes and Cuppycakes will continue to have a viable presence in Memphis and the surrounding areas.

GREEN PASTURES — Given the rapid success Moore has enjoyed in such a brief time since starting her business, no doubt Cakes and Cuppycakes will continue to have a viable presence in Memphis and the surrounding areas.

 

FOLLOW TINA SHIRELLE MOORE ON FACEBOOK (Tina Shirelle Moore) AND ON INSTAGRAM (@cakesandcuppycakes)

CakeRedTo her credit, Moore’s family has demonstrated immense support in the early stages of her business, most notably her husband, Alexander Moore, Sr., as well as her children, 18-year-old Alexandria and six-year-old Alexander Moore, Jr (or “Xan”).

In addition, she has enjoyed establishing closeknit bonds and business-related rapports with members of her church, Memphis’ New Growth In Christ Christian Center, as well as a host of extended family members.

Looking ahead, this Mississippi Valley State University alum boasts lofty aspirations of not only running Cakes and Cuppycakes from an actual facility in the forseeable furture, but she is aiming to convince other local businesses to stage her products on display in their respective establishments.

Given the rapid success Moore has enjoyed in such a brief time since starting her business, no doubt Cakes and Cuppycakes will continue to have a viable presence in Memphis and the surrounding areas.

“In due time, yes,” said Moore, when asked if she plans to consult other entrepreneurs with her products. “I’d love to see my products reach the stores. Within the next year, I’d love to have several employees working for me because of the growth that I anticipate. My business stands out because it my very own. I started this, I have several cake products that I’ve created. My pineapple, strawberry cake, and my caramel cake are to live for.”

Spoken like a true point guard who, although years removed from having dribbled a basketball, is still providing worthy assists.

Only this time, she’s handing them out to those who boasts a customary sweet tooth.

Not bad for a thorough introduction.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about Cakes and Cuppycakes, call Tina Shirelle Moore 901-493-8523 or email her at [email protected]

DreColumnAndre 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.

 

Nickventive Web And Graphics CEO starting to have a viable presence in Mid-South

NICK DA QUICK --- Nick Howard, owner of Nickventive Web And Graphics, is starting o evolve as one of the top web and graphic designers in the Mid-South, in large part because of his affordable prices. (Photos submitted by Nick Howard)

NICK DA QUICK — Nick Howard, owner of Nickventive Web And Graphics, is starting to evolve as one of the top web and graphic designers in the Mid-South, in large part because of his affordable prices. (Photos submitted by Nick Howard)

No doubt, Nicholas Howard boasts a unique competitive nature. Part of that comes from his fond admiration for sports. “I’ve have always enjoyed sports,” Howard told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I believe that the competitive nature of athletes that I love is also important in staying competitive with my design.”

WELL PREPARED --- Years before entering the ranks of entrepreneurship, Howard begin studying his craft intensely while enrolled at nearby Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale. A 1999 graduate of Clarksdale High, Howard earned an Associate Degree in Fine Arts two years later.

WELL PREPARED — Years before entering the ranks of entrepreneurship, Howard begin studying his craft intensely while enrolled at nearby Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale. A 1999 graduate of Clarksdale High, Howard earned an Associate Degree in Fine Arts two years later.

The designs Howard is alluding to are those he routinely produces at his emerging place of business. A Clarksdale, Mississippi native who currently resides in Horn Lake, Howard is owner of Nickventive Web and Graphics. While a majority of his business is done from the office of his DeSoto County residence, Howard hasn’t allowed not having an actual facility to deter him from evolving into one of the Mid-South’s most efficient web and graphic designers. While landing a facility is in the works, Howard has proven to be accommodating to an assortment of clients throughout the Mid-South, designing everything from personal business cards, flyers, brochures, magazine ads, and logos. That’s not all. CHECK OUT NICKVENTIVE WEB & GRAPHICS AT: www.nickventive.com Nickventive Web And Graphics also assist customers with photo editing, programs, invitations of all types, books, not to mention compact disk labels and cover designs. For Howard, he relishes the notion that consumers have bought into his rising company’s mission, which includes accommodating clients based on their budget. “We’re very affordable,” Howard said. “If client does not have a budget, we would work with them. Nickventive stands out in that, I believe in adding a personal component with my clients. I talk directly to them as the designer. I give them professional quality and design that is on the next level of creativity but caters to the style and needs of the client.” Nick2Years before entering the ranks of entrepreneurship, Howard begin studying his craft intensely while enrolled at nearby Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale. A 1999 graduate of Clarksdale High, Howard earned an Associate Degree in Fine Arts two years later. Consequently, he enrolled at Delta State University, where he received two scholarships. In 2003, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphics, a milestone that further boosted his interest for erecting his own business. Today, the 33-year-old, vibrant entrepreneur is starting to enjoy a viable presence as one of the Mid-South’s up-and-coming web and graphic designers. “Most of my biggest supporters have been of a large variety,” Howard said. “Small business owners with established boutique shops, small restaurants, individuals who love to sale apparel and clothing. Also, churches and small ministries as well. I am marketing my business to gauge the pulse of the market and staying abreast to new design software.”

While landing a facility is in the works, Howard has proven to be accommodating to an assortment of clients throughout the Mid-South, designing everything from personal business cards, flyers, brochures, magazine ads, and logos.

While landing a facility is in the works, Howard has proven to be accommodating to an assortment of clients throughout the Mid-South, designing everything from personal business cards, flyers, brochures, magazine ads, and logos.

In addition, Nickventive Web and Graphics even offers what Howard labels as basic video editing, particularly with regards to websites, animated commercials and cartoons. Looking head, many who have come to embrace Howard’s business venture don’t shy away from the notion that the sky’s the limit for Nickventive Web and Graphics. “I see my business expanding nationally,” Howard said. “Even though there are many competitors and other businesses like mine, I believe I provide a style and concept that would be a niche among the rest. I give them professional quality and design that is on the next level of creativity but caters to the style and needs of the client.” Spoken like a rising entreprenuer who boasts a unique competitive nature. No doubt. EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on Nickventive Web & Graphics, call 662-902-9737 or send email to: [email protected] DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send an email to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Fairley’s Shannon Lucas witnesses mother beat breast cancer, graduates with honors

Shannon D. Lucas played football during his middle school days.

He was quite good at it.

However, his competitive football tenure was short-lived, in large part because of an assortment of injuries.

MOTHERLY LOVE --- Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, LaTonya McKinney overcame the dreaded disease and was in attendance recently to witness her son, Shannon Lucas, graduate with honors from Fairley High. School officials announced recently the closing of Fairley as a member of the Shelby County Public Schools system. (Photos submitted by LaTonya McKinney)

MOTHERLY LOVE — Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, LaTonya McKinney overcame the dreaded disease and was in attendance recently to witness her son, Shannon D. Lucas, graduate with honors from Fairley High. School officials announced recently the closing of Fairley as a member of the Shelby County Public Schools system. (Photos submitted by LaTonya McKinney)

So much, in fact, that Lucas sensed that playing football in the high school ranks would not be in his best interest.

“The reason I stopped was because I had three injuries during the season,” Lucas told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “Afterward, I went on to realize that doing so in high school would be much harder for me. I wanted to focus on actually finishing high school, not missing days in the hospital, and missing assignments. That was an Achilles Heel that I couldn’t afford to carry.”

With football all but a distant memory, Lucas was determined to make good of what appeared to be discouraging ordeal.

To his credit, he did just that.

COLLEGE BOUND --- After graduating with honors on May 17, Lucas will enroll this fall at the University of Memphis on an academic scholarship.

COLLEGE BOUND — After graduating with honors on May 17, Lucas will enroll this fall at the University of Memphis on an academic scholarship.

The 17-year-old Memphian recently was among 153 individuals who were awarded diplomas during Fairley High’s final commencement exercises as a part of the Shelby County Public Schools system. For Lucas, while learning that Fairley will no longer be a public institution for inner city children in the Whitehaven community was a bittersweet moment as he sat among his classmates, among his fondest memories, he said, will be how he went about erasing the memories of the trials he endured as middle school athlete.

In a nutshell, Lucas wasn’t just a recipient of a diploma. He graduated with honors.

“My memories travel back all the way to when I first stepped foot into Fairley as a freshman with everyone else,” Lucas explained. “We didn’t know who anyone was, we didn’t know where we were, or were to go. It was like we were lost in a deep jungle. Then as we entered our senior year, everything seemed so old. We even felt old when we saw the newbie freshmen coming in. All we could think was, ‘We were never that bad as freshman!’”

During Fairley’s graduation ceremony before an overflow crowd in Memphis’ historic Orpheum Theatre in the heart of downtown, among those who were enthralled and sat nearly on the edge of her seat near the stage was Lucas’ mother, LaTonya McKinney.

To get a thorough understanding of why McKinney, a Coldwater, Miss. native, was brought to tears before her son’s name was called throughout the loudspeakers to receive his diploma, look no further the events that swarmed her life roughly eight years ago.

In 2006, McKinney was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Such news was a devastating blow for McKinney, whose twin sister, LaSonya Thomas, was diagnosed with the same dreaded disease approximately three years later.

“I didn’t have a response at all,” said McKinney, explaining her initial reaction during an October 2012 interview with MemphiSport. “I didn’t know how to respond, didn’t feel any anger. It was just some information that was given to me. My mom came over and then asked me if I wanted to cry. But I didn’t feel like crying.”

Today, however, McKinney and her twin — who were born approximately five minutes apart — are years removed from having gone into remission from breast cancer, a life-altering occurrence that made Lucas’s graduation day more of a celebratory occasion for his mother.

“It did cross my mind,” said McKinney, when asked if she thought she might not live to witness her son’s graduation. “But I quickly took that out of my head because I am a believer in God. My mother was my rock in my battle with cancer and she took really good care of me.”

Lucas, meanwhile, admits that because his mother fought vigorously to beat her battle with breast cancer, the poise she exhibited enabled him to establish a solid work ethic, particularly at an institution where the student body’s overall performance in the classroom had become an issue with state officials.

In other words, Lucas steadfastly defied the odds, erasing the memory — at least for a short while — of the upcoming closing of historic Fairley High.

Next up: He’s off to the University of Memphis this fall on an academic scholarship.

“I am highly disappointed that my school is closing,” Lucas said.  “Imagine, in the class of 2014 lies that last true blood Bulldogs of Fairley High School. The final O.B.’s (original bulldogs) are out of the building, and now the school that we all grow up together in will now seize to exist as we know it.”

Regardless, that doesn’t merely compare to the graduation memories his mother will forever cherish — memories she witnessed unfold close and upfront in the historic Orpheum Theatre.

So much for football.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

Former East High basketball star Desmond Merriweather defies odds, celebrates his wife

Desmond Merriweather has every reason in the world to celebrate Mother’s Day.

After all, doctors didn’t think he would live to witness his 37th birthday.

LOVE AND BASKETBALL --- Inya Merriweather, the wife of former Memphis East High basketball star Desmond Merriweather, stood by her husband's side after he was diagnosed colon cancer in 2009. Although doctors had given him 24-to-48 hours to live, Desmond said he's alive today, largely because of his wife's strong support. (Photos submitted by Desmond Merriweather)

LOVE AND BASKETBALL — Inga Merriweather, the wife of former Memphis East High basketball star Desmond Merriweather, stood by her husband’s side after he was diagnosed colon cancer in 2009. Although doctors had given him 24-to-48 hours to live, Desmond said he’s alive today, largely because of his wife’s strong support. (Photos submitted by Desmond Merriweather)

Diagnosed with colon cancer toward the end of 2009, Merriweather was confined to a hospital bed in October 2010, fighting for his young life just as hard as he fought to survive the dangerous streets of Binghampton growing up.

He underwent rounds of chemotherapy. He partook in regular radiation sessions. Doctors performed multiple surgeries. Still, it seemed all hope was gone.

For the very first time, Merriweather’s life suddenly was hanging in the balance. Doctors, in fact, announced that he had between 24-to-48 hours to live as his family stood by his side. Just like that, his hospital bed seemed more like his death bed.

But just as he’s done so many times as a rising basketball star at Memphis East High in the early 1990’s, Merriweather manufactured a dramatic comeback for the ages.

“I mean, everything has gotten great since,” Merriweather told MemphiSport Friday morning. “Really, God has gotten control of me. I’ve really never been the one to listen to doctors because they really don’t know. They’re only going by what man says.”

TEAM PENNY --- Fellow Memphian and former NBA star Penny Hardaway served as assistant for the past three seasons to Merriweather, who coaches basketball at Lester Middle School. Hardaway was recently named the head coach at East.

TEAM PENNY — Fellow Memphian and former NBA star Penny Hardaway served as assistant for the past three seasons to Merriweather, who coaches basketball at Lester Middle School. Hardaway was recently named the head coach at East.

Nowadays, it seems whenever he makes routine visits for treatment, Merriweather said doctors are astounded over how his health has progressed in recent years.

“They’re in a state of shock because they pretty much don’t know what to say,” he explained. “I tell them, ‘I know what y’all tell me, but God tells me differently.’ Pretty much, I don’t feel I have cancer in my body. I feel like I felt 10 years ago.”

Among the reasons Merriweather has steadfastly remained in high spirits during his battle with the dreaded disease is that his wife, Inya, has shown strong support since his diagnosis.

Merriweather recently completed his fifth full season as head basketball coach of Lester Middle School, the same institution he attended in the mid-1980s. With his close friend, former NBA star Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway serving as his assistant, Merriweather guided the Lions to their third consecutive state championships this year.

Looking back, Merriweather, a former Lane College basketball player, deemed it essential to pay homage to Inga, whom he said has been his grandest cheerleader on and away from the sideline.

After learning her husband was stricken by cancer nearly five years ago, Inya Merriweather quit her job as a longtime employee of Church Health Center in midtown Memphis to stand by his side.

HUGE TIP-IN — After learning her husband was stricken by cancer nearly five years ago, Inga Merriweather quit her job as a longtime employee of Church Health Center in midtown Memphis to stand by his side.

“To be honest, she’s the most important part of this ordeal,” said Merriweather, who has three children with his wife of nearly five years. “What people don’t know is that she quit her job to be with me in the hospital. She never left my side. I was in the hospital for three years.”

As Merriweather prepares to celebrate Mother’s Day for the 40th time in his life, he said the single most underlying lesson his wife taught him is the significance of “real love.” After all, as Merriweather admits, he’s never been one who fully trust women, particularly during his college days at Lane.

Today, nontheless, he doesn’t shy away from the notion that Inga has given him a newfound outlook on life.

“The biggest lesson is that love is more than the eye can visualize,” Merriweather said. “Love is eternal. She loves me more than I can imagine. She has done so much, just being there pretty much and never complaining not once.”

Which, according to Merriweather, is why he believes he has every reason in the world to celebrate Inga this Mother’s Day, his grandest cheerleader who helped propelled him to a dramatic off-the-court comeback for the ages.

Asked if not for his wife’s tireless support, would he still be alive today, Merriweather said, “I wouldn’t be alive to honest. But she never gave up. That’s why I never gave up. She is the one who did all the ground work. She’s the captain of everything. People are glorifying my story with Penny, but she’s the backbone. She can get the other half of my rib now.”

Especially since he managed to persevere and defy all odds during a time his life hung in the balance.

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