HAMMOND | On March 27, 2010, Levon Hamilton and his Lew Wallace teammates stood in a dark tunnel, their collective pulse racing out of control. Then, the steps began, forward, into an arena filled with bright light.
"That was the greatest moment of my life," said Hamilton, now a senior guard at Hammond. "It was a thrill. All those (Wallace) guys are my brothers."
Inside Conseco Fieldhouse that fateful eve, Washington beat Wallace 65-62 in overtime. Hamilton sat behind the bench. Like his grandfather before him, severe migraines put the sophomore on the sidelines.
"They say it's genetic," Hamilton said.
When Branden Dawson's 3-pointer missed and the game ended, Hamilton collapsed. His future seemed to blur in the scary moment.
"I was rushed to the emergency room at the hospital," Hamilton said.
Upon being released, Hamilton and his mother, Karnissa Clark, had a lot to ponder. In time, the two moved to Hammond for the final two years of Hamilton's high school career.
His father died when Hamilton was 2-years-old.
"I wouldn't even know what he looked like if not for pictures," Hamilton said. "My mom, she does everything for me. She works so hard to help me be the best I can be. She's great. She even gets on my butt for not cleaning up my room enough — but I love her anyway."
Hamilton averaged 20 points a game last year for a Wildcats team that only won eight games. His game was one dimensional — he liked to shoot — but if he wasn't knocking down Js he wasn't doing much to help the team.
A lot of things changed when Larry Moore Jr. took over the program this past summer. One of those was Hamilton's game.
"Levon calls me; I don't have to call him," Moore Jr. said. "He did a great job during the offseason working to improve his entire game. He is a complete player now, and he's still working hard to get better."
Hamilton is averaging 18 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds a game for the Wildcats (5-3).
He changed his diet over the summer. He stopped eating after 6 p.m., and instead drank a protein shake. After a long practice, Hamilton will come home and run on a treadmill, at least two miles and multiple sprints.
His baby fat turned into muscle.
"I feel light on my feet now," Hamilton said. "My vertical has increased five inches. I feel much better than I ever have before."
Consequently, the migraines have decreased.
He is also an A-B student at Hammond who Moore Jr. calls "a model student."
"Levon is a great kid off the court," Moore Jr. said. "He is one of the most respected kids at our school."
He has two dreams he wants to accomplish in the next six months.
"I pray every night that I will have an opportunity to play college basketball," Hamilton said.
And he wants to race from the darkness into the light one more time.
"I want to get back to state," he said. "I want to do that again.
"But this time I want to be on the court and I want to win."