|Former Indiana Basketball All-Star Larretha "LaLa" Draughon shot dead at 22.|
I was a guest on The Smashmouth Radio Network 97.3 The Zone in Birmingham, Alabama yesterday to discuss the crazy Hot Joint I wrote last week entitled "Ghetto Instincts." I was merely shedding light on why kids like University of Georgia star running back Isaiah Crowell could make the mistake of having a gun under the seat and how easy it is to end up in trouble. I hear so many people passing judgement on these kids and have never walked a block in their shoes. Sadly, another star athlete with so much promise wasn't as lucky as Crowell to just be arrested and kicked off of the team on Tuesday. Larretha "LaLa" Draughon, a former Indiana Basketball All-Star, was shot and killed yesterday morning for simply making the wrong decision to be with the wrong cats at the wrong time.
Unfortunately, when a kid grows up in the war zone there are always distractions that pull at them on a regular basis. LaLa was one the best basketball players to ever come out of the state of Indiana. However, she always battled with the doing the right thing and just couldn't seem to stay out trouble. Raised by her grandmother she was an honor student at Northwest High School and a Indiana All-Star that had earned a basketball scholarship. In April of her senior year in 2008 she was arrested for robbing a Long John Sliver's and spent two years in prison. Even being featured on The Oprah Winfrey Network's "Breaking Down The Bars" a show about women in prison trying to turn their lives around.
Guess who was at the prison on a regular basis? Her high school coach, Charlie "Coach B" Brown. After LaLa was released from prison she enrolled in Vincennes University on that scholarship and guess who was at her games? Coach B! When you're in the ghetto the coaches are normally the last people to give up on you and Coach B was no exception. Unfortunately, she spent the past two months in prison on a parole violation and was released on Monday and in less than 24 hours she was dead.
As we were discussing UGA's Crowell the guys on the radio show asked the question, Don't you think that's a lot to ask of a coach?" When you sign up to coach in the ghetto you sign up for all of it bruh! The coach is typically the one guy that can save a kid's life in the war zone especially if they don't have good parents. People like Coach B are the ones that make it possible for others to even take a chance on kids like LaLa. They typically aren't bad kids they're just kids that make mistakes because they weren't nurtured at an early age!
Some of these kids have never had a stable home environment or even someone to tell them that they are loved. So they find it in the streets. That's why so many kids join gangs and are more loyal to those groups because they are the only people that have ever looked out for them. Folks that grew up with good parents in the suburbs can't begin to understand why the coach in the ghetto is so important to child's survival.
These guys aren't signed up because they think some kid is going to make it to the league one day. They're doing it with the hope of saving a young person's life. I remember when I was in high school the coaches would put the fear of God in you. Anyone from G.I. knows the legend of "Chief" who was a state champion track coach and also Campbell who won 10 straight state track titles was no joke either. We were literally afraid of Chief because he did not play even if you didn't play sports. However, these guys would make sure that their students had what they needed to make it out of the hood. It seemed like everybody that went to college on track scholarship from Gary went to Western Michigan because Chief had a connection there. These guys saved so many lives and a lot of successful cats from the G are forever thankful for them.
I know you've heard of a cat named LeBron James. Now don't think for one minute that LeBron made it out of Akron because he could simply play basketball bruh. It was because of coaches like Frankie Walker his Pop Warner football coach that we even know who King James is. We always hear about Dru Joyce, his AAU coach, but it was Walker that stepped in and made the impact heard around the world.
When LeBron was in fourth grade living in a very unstable home with a mother that was only 16 years his senior he had all but dropped out of school because he'd missed so many days. Walker encouraged LeBron's mom to let him move in with he and his wife and three kids so that they would make sure that he went to school everyday. LeBron lived with them for 18 months and off and on as he continued to grow up. Coaches don't have to do that in the suburbs bruh!
Yes Dru Joyce was instrumental in the development of LeBron as a basketball player but if it hadn't been for Walker we'd be talking about someone else right now. LeBron also lived with the Joyce's during the summers as well. These coaches weren't thinking about the NBA bruh! They were merely doing what all coaches in the ghetto do for kids. They looked out! Even though LaLa didn't make it understand that there were people like Coach B that looked out and hopefully some kid will learn from her mistakes and make it out on her strength.
So before you past judgement on these kids have some mercy on them because it's only by the grace of God that you weren't one of them. Why, because you can't pick your parents bruh. Also when you see the Coach B's, Chief's and Coach Cam's of the world today, give them a hug and just say thank you because they are the difference makers.
Holla At Ya Boy!
Follow me on Twitter: @jaygravesreport