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The news was a gut punch to New Orleans Pelicans forward E'Twaun Moore.

David L. Anderson, 11, died May 6 after being struck by a stray bullet the day before at an East Chicago park where the little guy loved to play basketball.

Moore knew David from camps he's held at East Chicago Central High School.

"I remember seeing him walking in the halls, on the court with instructors, joking around. It was pretty tragic, what happened to him," Moore said.

"He was always smiling, talking about doing good at school and playing basketball."

Moore paused a moment.

"It's crazy out there," he said.

Moore's next camp is scheduled for June 28-29 for youths entering grades 4-10.

Basketball fundamentals are just part of the camp, which includes lectures by Moore and his instructors on essential life skills.

Being able to dribble and shoot with either hand is important, but not as important as maintaining good grades, respecting authority and avoiding trouble.

There are no guarantees, sadly. David did all of the above.

But fear can't be a deterrent.

Pick up a newspaper or watch TV news and the headlines make your head spin: Shootings, assaults, beatings.

"We have to influence kids to want to be successful; tell them this fighting and shooting isn't the cool thing to do," Moore said. "It's difficult to reach everybody but if we can touch the lives of a few, it'll be worth it."

It wasn't much fun growing up in East Chicago for Moore and his older siblings, Ezell Jr. and Ekeisha.

Their overly-protective parents practiced tough love 24-7, and there was no wiggle room whatsoever.

Life in their third-floor apartment on Guthrie Street, a long, violent stretch of crowded, low-income projects, was all about survival.

Gangs, drugs, sirens and gunshots were a common occurrence when the family moved there in 1989.

Edna and Ezell Moore Sr., E'Twaun Moore's parents, had one word that struck fear in their children growing up — curfew. The Moore children had to get home before the street lights came on or they felt their parents' wrath.

"There was a lot of things going around that you had to avoid and our parents made sure we knew the difference between bad and good," E'Twaun Moore said.

It worked. All three graduated from college.

E'Twaun Moore starred at Purdue and was drafted by the Celtics. He later signed with the Bulls, and then agreed to a four-year, $34 million deal with New Orleans in 2016.

"First of all, the importance of education," E'Twaun Moore said of his favorite camp topic. "You need a high school diploma just to get a minor job today. People go to college and still have a hard time finding jobs.

"The second is having confidence in yourself. Not many people are around someone successful who they can draw from, so it's pretty cool I can talk to kids as an NBA player."

E'Twaun Moore said many of the same problems occur in New Orleans, particularly in its inner city. He mentors a 13-year-old boy there during the season.

To show his love and gratitude for his parents, E'Twaun Moore had two specific tattoos added as a tribute to them while attending Purdue, where he was named ESPN The Magazine second-team Academic All-American as a junior.

On the underside of his left bicep, the word "Edna” is permanently inscribed.

On the right, the word "Ezell.”

"I put their names on my muscles to always remember them, because they are my strength,” said E'Twaun Moore, 29. "They gave me everything I have. They gave me knowledge and took care of me."

When his camp is held next month, I am certain E'Twaun Moore will talk of street lights and a young man named David Anderson.

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

 

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