Sunday, March 1, 2009

Woonsocket's Tyrone Nared Gets A Second Chance

Sounds like Woonsocket's Tyrone Nared started a little late, but could be a Division I prospect next season,via ProJo's High School Game Time:

I first saw him four years ago. He was playing for Woonsocket then, the opponent was Hendricken, and the game was never close. Hendricken too good. He was just a gangly kid that night, all arms and legs, as young as springtime. But you could see he had potential, could see that if he stayed with it, and maybe caught a break or two, that maybe one day basketball could take this kid far away from the gym inside Woonsocket High School. He was almost 6-foot-5 then, and it didn’t take much vision to one day see him in a college basketball game.

Two years later, it was though he had dropped off the planet, just another city kid whose little window of opportunity had come and gone. Rhode Island high school basketball is full of kids like that, kids with potential who seem to come and go in the blink of an eye, betrayed by poor grades, no money, limited opportunities, or all of the above. Tyrone Nared was just another one.

He had been on the All-State team, and had had his name in the paper, and played in All-Star games, and had had his little sliver of high school fame, and now it was over. Just like that. Or so I thought. But there he was one day in November, in the box score for CCRI, and there he was the other afternoon in the gym after a practice, right there in the middle of his new life. For this is about a second chance. The kind that too many inner-city kids never get. It’s about a second chance, and the story really begins two years ago, when he was a high school senior and couldn’t play basketball because his eligibility was done.

"Basketball was what had gotten me through school, and it had kept me out of trouble," he said. "And now I didn’t have it anymore. I thought it was over." He used to hang around Dunn Park in Woonsocket that year, playing in pickup games, not really motivated, feeling lost. There had been some talk of going to prep school, but that hadn’t worked out, and now he was just another kid whose career already seemed in the past tense, like some comet that flashes briefly across the nighttime sky only to disappear just as quickly. The courts were full of guys older than he was, guys in their 20s, some doing drugs, some selling drugs, too many guys whose futures had seemed to have just stopped, any dreams they once might have had reduced to just getting by, an inner-city freeze-frame. "I felt like I had no control over anything," he said. "It was like everything just stopped. I felt like a nobody."

Last year, he came here to CCRI, essentially lured by coach Rick Harris, who had coached against him in high school, back when Harris was the coach at Cranston East. Why not, Nared figured. He had nothing else, and he could already sense that if he kept hanging around the playgrounds in Woonsocket, he was eventually going to end up just like the older guys he saw all around him, all the guys who ran out of futures. So began his second chance. But it came with an asterisk. The plan was for Nared to redshirt last year, to use it as a year to get acclimated academically, for if he didn’t do that, the basketball was going to be irrelevant, anyway.

This was the year he got basketball back. He is close to 6-foot-8 now, and still has the skills and shooting range of a wing player. He’s averaging 12 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game for CCRI, in the first organized basketball he’s played in three years. Harris says he’s already received Division II interest, but feels that next year Nared will be getting Division I interest. "He needs to toughen up and he needs to get stronger," Harris said, "but at times he can be a highlight film."

That’s the basketball part, the hits, runs, and errors of the game. More important, Nared has gotten his future back, the one he felt he had lost two years ago, when he used to hang out in the park feeling like a nobody, back when he couldn’t see too many roads leading out of Woonsocket, back when he felt his future had stopped at 18 years old.

If nothing else, he’s made his parents proud. He is the youngest of seven kids, with a father who drives a bus for RIPTA and is a pastor at a senior center on Sundays, and a mother who works with disabled children, and he’s the first child to go to college. He’s also come to learn that this is the start of real life. "I didn’t take anything seriously when I was in high school," he said, "but I’m not a kid anymore."

He also knows that this is his second chance, something that many kids don’t get. Not Rhode Island high school basketball players, anyway. Too many of them get phased out early, their futures betrayed by poor grades and too few opportunities. It’s not always about talent. In fact, sometimes talent is not even the most important part. Nared is Exhibit A. He had the benefit of playing for Preston Murphy, the former URI star, when he was at Woonsocket. So he had a role model. He had the support of his family. But back then, even that wasn’t enough. It takes a village? Sometimes it takes even more than that.

"So I can’t take this for granted," Tyrone Nared said. "This means everything." He paused a beat, and when he spoke again, his voice seemed full of resolve. "There is no third chance."

1 comment:

  1. What a great, true to Life story. . . .

    I hope Tyrone gets the education and exposure he
    deserves in the Pac 10 at the University of Oregon.

    As a inner-city kid, myself, my time at the U of Oregon was just the ticket I needed toward a better future.

    Marlon Warren
    Class of 1985