The fact that R.J. lived on the west side of Detroit in a neighborhood that was crime-ridden and getting worse every day didn’t seem to matter, at least not to him. He could name at least a dozen players in the NBA that had grown up in Detroit. He had seen some of them on the playgrounds knocking down jumpers and talking trash. He could recite the high schools they went to: McKenzie, Southwestern, Cooley, Pershing.
He had watched them sign their national letters of intent on ESPN surrounded by their families, held his breath as they coyly placed baseball caps emblazoned with the logos of major universities in front of them, and cheered for them with their friends and families as they selected the cap of their school of choice, and positioned it on their heads. He had followed them in college, watched as they became stars at big time universities: Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Duke, Arizona. He knew their colors and their coaches, and he could name them too. He had watched as they left college early, and sat waiting patiently for NBA commissioner David Stern to call their names: “With the fourth pick of the 2004 NBA draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select…” He had fantasized about the Benz's, Bentley's, big contracts, and the stately mansions. That’ll be me someday,” R.J. promised himself. He was sure of it.
He had no idea there were barriers and obstacles in his path. He was unaware of the statistics, probabilities, and odds stacked against him. But how could he? He wasn’t a statistician, mathematician, or odds maker. He was just a kid... trying to make it.
The Black Athlete: Docuseries (Trailer)