Earlier this week, Jabari Parker — a high school junior from Chicago — was put on the cover of Sports Illustrated, where he was dubbed the “Best high school basketball player since LeBron James.”
And while Parker has the most unique back-story of an elite hoops recruit that I can remember, he’s not the first kid to be dubbed the next LeBron before attending a high school prom. Back in 2005, it was Demetrius Walker who was called “14 going on LeBron.”
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a kid that’s not even in high school yet, and as the terrific book “Play Their Hearts Out” documents, the article was just a part of the reason that Walker went from being “the next LeBron” to coming off the bench for New Mexico.
Walker gets the majority of the attention because he is the guy that had Sports Illustrated write about him as a 14 year old, but the fact of the matter is that the book is about an entire team, and Walker was far from that team’s most heartbreaking story.
That title goes to Aaron Moore. Moore was a 6-foot-7 freshman that worked his way into Compton’s powerhouse Dominguez program, which has produced talents like Tyson Chandler and Brandon Jennings. But Moore’s upbringing was quite upsetting to read about. He was molested by his step-father before he even entered elementary school. He was propositioned — although, according to the book, never assaulted — by convicted child molester and former Dominguez head coach Russell Otis. His mother, who was receiving payouts from Otis for her son to play at Dominguez, tried to get Moore to return to the school to keep the money coming in. He was missing class and games as early as his sophomore season, and when he should have been attending prom and picking a school to attend, Moore was a homeless dropout.
Remember, this is a kid that had a chance to commit to Washington as a freshman in high school.
There is a happy ending to this story, however.
After getting his academics, and his life, in order at a couple of different Junior Colleges, Moore has finally earned himself a Division I scholarship. He signed a letter of intent to play his final two years of eligibility at Portland State in the Big Sky Conference.
Portland State isn’t exactly a gateway to the NBA, which is something that Moore had been promised since he was 13 years old. But it is a way for him to get a college degree. And given what he has been through in his life, it is impossible to call him anything other than a success story.
Image via here.