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Odell Winkey Jr. Chose to Struggle And Play The Game He Loves

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Odell Winkey Jr. believed he had two options: He could work a job and provide for himself or play basketball and struggle.

“…That’s basically the toughest thing to overcome for me. I decided to play basketball and struggle because I love the game and I wanted to use that as a tool to my success,” Winkey Jr. said.

Odell Winkey Jr. hails from Baltimore City, Maryland, the Cherry Hill projects. Where he’s from, some people didn’t have fathers, some people didn’t have mothers, some people had it all and some people didn’t. So given that, people in his neighborhood had something in common. So for him, it was about just pushing those around him to do better.

Despite that outlook, people around him were into the street life. His father was as well and died when Winkey Jr. was only five years old. Basketball was Winkey Jr.’s way of getting away from something that he could easily fall into.

“Most definitely, because it’s like a get a get away from everything. A lot of people ─ it’s hard to be around something and not fall into it. Basketball was my way to not be around it. It was my way of pushing away from the streets just to separate myself from others. A lot of people wanted to do the same thing, I just wanted to do something different.”

He was also motivated to stay away from the streets by his mom who was a young mother and he felt jail or death would stress her out even more.

His journey in basketball began at Reginald F. Lewis High School in Baltimore, Maryland. He started taking basketball seriously in the ninth grade. Reginald F. Lewis was not considered a basketball school but he had to go there because it was his zone school.

He transferred to Baltimore City’s  Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove as a sophomore. From there, his love for the game and his understanding of where it could take him took another step in the right direction.

“…I saw the realness of basketball. Basketball is where real people can be a family with the game so I took it from there and ran with it. Seeing that, the game it’s serious. It’s not anything to play around with so if I wanted it I had to take it seriously.”

Jimmy Little, Winkey Jr’s first AAU coach was another person that contributed to his success he has seen thus far.

“As far as people I look up to, I look up to a couple basketball players like outside of my neighborhood or I’ll look up to people in my neighborhood. The people I looked up to were doing the wrong things. They were my motivation to not fall into traps like they did. Just motivate myself and do better,” Winkey Jr. said.

His cousin Aquille Carr, and Keron DeShields both played basketball at the collegiate level. DeShields agreed to terms with the Italian basketball team Latina Basket back in July of last year.

Those two are people Odell Winkey Jr. gets advice from on a consistent basis.

“Just people like them. Talking to them daily and them telling me to push myself and it’s going to get rough, it’s going to get tough but you’re built for it. It’s survival of the fittest everywhere. Another piece of motivation for me was my little cousin. He honestly put me on to the game of basketball. His name is Terrell Davis, He’s a point guard at St. Frances Academy. ”

Odell Winkey Jr. played basketball at Georgia Prep Sports Academy after high school and still has dreams to go to the NBA.

“Yeah, 100 percent. That’s my number one goal and I somewhat have some type of movement, some type of group going on. It stands for 1C1M, one crew one mission, three stars believe in yourself, believe in the process it takes to be a pro and whatever God you believe in, there’s a process for everybody,” he said. “Everybody’s route is different. Some people were able to be a pro out of high school, some people never attended college. Everybody’s process is different and I know mine is different. Everybody takes a different route.”

That is his future goal. In the present, where he stands right now, he’s staring down an opportunity to play in the Central Basketball League (CBA) with the Baltimore Shuckers, a minor league team.

The team is coached by Llewellyn Smalley. The team has been in operation for five years and will have their sixth up and running when the season starts in March 2017. The team has an organizational record of 48-36 and 36-16 home record.

“Odell has a strong passion for the game and a passion to succeed and has demonstrated he is willing to put in the work to make it. On the court he has a great deal of quickness and good court vision,” Wolfe said about his impression of Odell Winkey Jr.

He will have a chance to make the cut for the Baltimore Shuckers as they will be conducting final tryouts on Jan. 22. Winkey Jr knows that Wolfe has his eye on him.

“…He just lets me know just to keep working, let’s me know that I’m playing [well]. At practices, I’m doing other stuff that he likes to see like off the ball stuff: cutting, setting screens, getting people open, rebounding, boxing out, stuff like that.”

At 5’11, 148 pounds, Winkey Jr. knows that he needs to get bigger, faster and stronger as a point guard to deal with the pace of the professional level of the game. He wants to be at 160 pounds by the start of the basketball season and at 175-180 in general at some point. The good thing for him, however, is he enjoys playing defense.

“I’d say scrappy. I think I’m that guard that can give you flashy at times, I could be a crowd pleaser at times and I can run my units when it’s time to run my units. The part of the game I love the most is to defend. I love to play defense, I love to get people rattled because I’m a point guard and I know how it feels to be getting rattled the whole night and being a headache to the opponent.”

He wants to be able to show that he can guard the bigger guards and that his size doesn’t matter. He knows that he can get hot and score at will, run the offense and get his teammates the ball when they’re open.

His mentality on the court is simple: the other player that Odell Winkey Jr. faces laces up his sneakers the same way  but their stories are another thing entirely.

“I come from the struggle, I come from the slums. I want his heart. I want to be the best. I want him to fear me. I want him to go home thinking ‘is this game really for me?’ When I step out on the court, I just feel like I’m in a whole other world, like I’m in the jungle. I’m out there to take hearts. Fearless.”

Boxing

25th Annual Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night, A Charity Knockout Event

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Photo Credit: Monica Alvarez

The stars came out last night to give, show support, perform, and to continue to raise money and awareness in hopes of one day find a cure to knockout Parkinson’s disease.

Going back to year number 1, The first ever event was held at the Ritz-Carlton operated on a much smaller scale than today, which is now held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

At the very first Celebrity Fight Night With the help of Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, and the valley of the sun’s very own Louie Espinoza, Tony Baltazar, and boxing champion Michael Carbajal who by the way fought in the ring with over sized boxing gloves.

The ”Puttin on the Fists at The Ritz” first Celebrity Fight Night scored a knockout win and is STILL punching on through today for the Greatest Of All Time, The late great Muhammad Ali.

Last night I was honored to attend and speak to a few of the stars, one was NFL legendary kicker Nick Lowery, Mr. Lowery now spends most of his time at charitable endeavors and advocating for alternative medicine research and is also a spokesman for Kannalife, Inc to raise awareness for CTE and players safety in hopes of one day having intercellular “helmets,” like Kannalife’s CBD and KLS-13019, is so important to potentially treat the brain.

I asked Lowery what is his favorite Ali memory, and Lowery’s response: ” Taking Ali to the NBA All-Star game one year as we sat behind Jay-Z and Beyonce and watching Beyonce wave to Ali, Beyonce spoke to us, she is the sweetest person. Also taking Ali to the locker rooms and watching Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and all the other all stars turn into children at the sight of seeing their hero the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali walk through the doors, what an experience that was.”

In asking the very same question to R&B Singer Brian McKnight, ”I have so many Ali memories but my favorite was watching Ali knockout George Foreman at home with my dad. The odds were against Ali and Ali being the great fighter that he was he beat the odds and stopped a much younger powerful puncher in Foreman. You know, I am still a big boxing fan today, I enjoy watching Tyson Fury out of the current heavyweights.”

And what did legendary former champion boxer, Micheal Carbajal have to say? ”It’s truly an honor to attend this great event, at the very first one proceeds went to my 9th street boxing gym and now 24 years later it’s still going strong, a great charity”. Mr. Carbajal went on to talk some boxing with me,

Carbajal- ” You see Spence/Garcia?”

Me- ” Yes, it was brutal, what did you think?”

Carbajal- ” Not good for Mikey Garcia at all, but he is still my favorite current boxer, and he beats everybody at 135 pounds if he can make the weight there. Mikey would knockout Lomachenko in 4 rounds at 135.”

Me- ”Wow, you really think that? Both are great technical boxers but I can’t see a 4 round fight between them, so you really think it would only take Mikey 4 rounds to stop Lomachenko?”

Carbajal- ” I KNOW so!”

Special honorees for the evening include fabled American music producer and 27-time Grammy Award-winner Quincy Jones, Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the medical director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute and Renee Parsons of the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

“For 25 years, we’ve treated Celebrity Fight Night audiences to the world’s greatest entertainers and this year will be no different as we welcome Barry Manilow,” said Jimmy Walker, Founder of Celebrity Fight Night. “With the help of our celebrity friends and incredibly generous donors, we are once again excited to raise millions of dollars and make a difference in the lives of those who need our support.”

Individual tickets for Celebrity Fight Night start at $1,500 – $10,000.  To purchase tickets or to get more information on the event, please visit www.celebrityfightnight.org, or call (602) 956-1121.

About Celebrity Fight Night
Celebrity Fight Night has gifted more than $86 million over the past 24 years benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as several other worthy charities.

The black-tie event features a cocktail reception, silent auction, elegant dinner, and an exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items and experiences. Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 by Jimmy Walker and supports the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. For more information, visitwww.celebrityfightnight.org.

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Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23

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Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.

“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”

Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.

Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”

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Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl

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It’s Championship Sunday and one of the NFL staples remain atop the league. The New England Patriots are appearing in their record 8th AFC title game in hopes of competing for a sixth title.

A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.

Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic ,  As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.

The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.

In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”.  Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?

I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.

Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.

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