Thursday, 3 September 2009

6'6" rising junior Rob Thomas, who visits Montreal and Ottawa with the St. John's Red Storm this coming weekend, appears to have had quite the set of challenges in his pursuit of a college basketball career and university degree. As ESPN's Chris Broussard explores, the native of the Bronx has not one, not two but three significant barriers to success, which he appears to be in the process of conquering. (Note article is cut given that I don't have an espn account).

For Thomas, home is where the hoop is: The life of St. John's forward Rob Thomas is finally coming into focus
This story appears in the September 7 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Rob Thomas shouldn't be here.

He shouldn't be running full-court -- foiling one defender with a deft crossover and another with a wickedly awkward, no-look, over-the-shoulder layup, in a summer scrimmage at St. John's. Any number of places would be a more logical destination than a college campus, his college campus.

Like the graveyard, because at 11 he was sleeping on park benches and in subway stations, fighting off older kids, on one occasion even having a gun jammed in his face. Or jail, because at 15 he was a truant who helped to support his family by selling weed on the street. Or the playground, because the guy couldn't read so much as a birthday card the day he turned 18, putting his future somewhere other than on the hardwood. Or the sideline, at best, because doctors thought he might not play high-level ball again after he tore up his knee.

"I don't think anyone in college basketball has been through so much," says St. John's strength and conditioning coach Pat Dixon. "Maybe they have a learning disability or had a tough upbringing or serious injury. But all three? No one."

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