For Brooklyn native Deejay Brown, the place where he is the most safe in the world is on the basketball court.
That’s what makes it so sad that he hasn’t been allowed to play for the past two seasons for his team at Thousand Oaks High School in California. Brown was ruled ineligible to play after moving in to live with the family of Rich Endres, his coach –- and surrogate father.
Last year’s decision was based upon the principals’ conclusion that Brown, Endres and Thousand Oaks didn’t prove Brown’s hardship case. Endres thinks Brown should have been allowed to play last year, if not both years.
“How many kids get stabbed in the face in an attempted murder? That’s an extreme hardship. And what would it have hurt if you would have allowed him to play? Who would that have harmed?”
The principals of the seven other schools in the league in which Thousand Oaks High competes voted 7-0 not to allow Brown to play. “If you look at it from the standpoint of what is best for the student, there’s not a lot of justice in this story, to be quite honest with you,” said Lou Lichtl, the school’s principal.
“It actually motivates me,” Brown said. “They’re basically trying to mess up my life. They don’t want me to play basketball and they don’t want me to do what I love and what I want to do.”
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Deejay grew up in the Farragut Houses near Fort Greene, playing street ball so well that he earned the nickname “FedEx” because of his uncanny ability to deliver pinpoint passes to teammates.
But his Brooklyn days came to an end on the morning of July 4, 2007. Brown was stabbed in the face, back and neck with a 10-inch butcher’s knife as he came to the aid of his mother, Treena, who was being attacked with the same blade by Brown’s stepfather, Derrick Hunter.