STEVE HANLON: Roosevelt and Jefferson sounds presidential

2013-08-09T19:00:00Z 2013-09-16T18:34:20Z STEVE HANLON: Roosevelt and Jefferson sounds presidentialSteve Hanlon Prep Beat nwitimes.com
August 09, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

It would be like Joe Biden giving up saying stupid things and walking out the door. Or Lindsay Lohan vowing to never drink another ounce of liquor.

When people who are known for one thing walk away from it, it's news.

A few years ago Marcus Jefferson walked away from basketball and thought it was for good. The East Chicago native had received a few elbows to the jaw while trying to keep his game alive and he needed a break from the thing he loved so much.

"Playing the game of basketball as long as I did, you get a lot of bad deals," Jefferson said. "A lot of things left a sour taste in my mouth. I thought I was done with it completely."

The 6-foot-6 standout at E.C. Central played his last game there in 1997-98. Gang violence erupted the following summer and one Cardinal was killed while another was charged in another murder.

Jefferson's mother sent him to Notre Dame Prep near Boston for safety. He then played one year at Providence and three more at Iowa State. He returned home and became a father. He pursued pro contracts in Europe and tried out for several different CBA teams.

No offer was tenured so Jefferson walked away from the game.

But teammate Chris Woods talked him back off the cliff. Working with young stars became part of his day. The love began to pulsate through his veins. Again.

Jefferson was recently hired as Roosevelt's new boys basketball coach.

His rear-view mirror has been turned to the side. He now looks to the future as hope has hit a 30-footer that hung the net.

The 'Velt won two games last year under Renaldo Thomas. The school has more problem's than Lindsay Lohan's parole officer. But that doesn't mean Jefferson isn't pumped for this opportunity.

He is.

"Some people think I'm crazy for taking this job," he said. "Lake Central is going to have one of the best teams in the state. I will have different challenges here than I did it L.C.

"But I look forward to working with these young men."

Roosevelt's bench has had more Roosevelt grads on it than any other schools. Being an outsider at a tradition-rich school may not be easy. But those with wrinkled black and gold lettermen's jackets have to be hoping for anyone to breath some life into the flat-lined program.

"I'm a Panther now," Jefferson said. "I was an Indian when I was an Indian, a Cardinal when I was a Cardinal. I hope that the people of Gary will give me a chance."

They should. Jefferson was close with Glenn Robinson III when he played in St. John. His father, of course, was an Indiana Mr. Basketball at Roosevelt.

Jefferson was a remarkable player at E.C. I still get headaches remembering some of the dunks he had back in the day. Where is my Tylenol?

Some tough breaks took his love away from the game. But a bunch of young men in black and gold jerseys restored the old-school enchantment.

Way to go Panthers. Look what you've done without even one whistle blowing.

"I'm going in blind, I have what I have," Jefferson said. "We have to have accountability. I will have different challenges than at L.C. If these young boys take care of themselves in the classroom, basketball will take care of itself. We'll be competitive. We'll be better than two wins."

Jefferson said working under L.C. coach Dave Milausnic has prepared him for the next chapter of his life.

"Dave is a great coach," Jefferson said. "He taught me how to prepare, the Xs and Os. I feel like I'm ready for this and I have to thank Dave for helping me get here."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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