<
>

Ric Bucher on Stephen Jackson

In an ESPN the Magazine article, Bucher himself implies that the world does not need one more athlete apology article. But you really should read about Stephen Jackson. Bucher tells of that shooting outside the nightclub, the Stephen Jackson Academy set to open soon, and the fight that Jackson did not join:

The housing project in Port Arthur, Texas, now quaintly named Gulf Breeze, was known simply as Longs 15 years ago. Donald Buckner Jr. took the younger half-brother he called Stevie a lot of places but Longs was not one of them. Stevie understood, well aware of what drugs and poverty could drive folks to do; no one grows up in a town surrounded by six prisons and misses that lesson. Stevie was a 14-year-old burgeoning basketball star when Donald hooked up with a new girlfriend living in Longs. Only she had an ex who hadn't conceded that their relationship was over. Donald visited her one night and the ex called him out to settle it Port Arthur style. "In my neighborhood, no one minded catching a fair one," says Jackson, "and my brother didn't back down from anyone." So they fought, with Donald getting the best of it until the ex's brother and a cousin jumped Donald from behind, attacking him with a bottle and lead pipe. By the time Stevie heard about the fight, Donald was lying comatose in an ICU, 17 staples in his head. Stevie was bedside when a single tear slid down Donald's face as he exhaled for the final time. "You can't tell me seeing his brother die that way hasn't had an effect," says Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh. "To me, it's why he is always coming to the help of his teammates."