From criminal to centerpiece: The John Wall redemption story

JR Isaga
From criminal to centerpiece: The John Wall redemption story


John Wall once said he'd 'probably in the streets or in jail' if not for basketball. He's not only surviving, he's lifting the Washington Wizards franchise

Game 7 it is. 

On the night the Boston Celtics wore all-black to “mourn” the funeral of the Washington Wizards, John Wall refused to be buried and instead did the burying with a crazy jumper to seal a 92-91 win on Friday, May 12 (Saturday Manila time). 

There are reasons why he was indeed called “Crazy J” in high school. Crazy J hit a crazy J to end a crazy day. But if Wall had the final say in this article, he’d want to stay as far away from that nickname as possible. Once asked by ESPN what he would be if his NBA career didn’t pan out, the then-24 year old Wall replied: 

“I’d probably be in the streets or in jail.” 

Johnathan H. Wall, Jr. was born into a rough life in the “City of Oaks,” Raleigh, North Carolina. Due to a troubled childhood that unfortunately plagues a lot of the world’s youth, Wall would seek conflict like a moth seeks light as documented by NBA enthusiast Mike Korzemba.  

Robberies, gunfights, you name it, he’s done it.

Only the words of his mother, Korzemba noted, made Wall leave his dark past behind. However, even as he rose through the ranks using the talent he clearly had, he once again suffered a setback in 2009 when he was detained for breaking and entering at the age of 18.

Bleacher Report even wrote a story titled “John Wall Charged with Breaking and Entering: John Calipari, You Can Have Him” and had paragraphs which said:

“Yes, Wall is innocent until proven guilty, but this is a case of being caught red-handed, and I am going to dispense with the politically correct niceties of defending someone who has repeatedly indicated he has difficulty understanding the difference between right and wrong.”

“Or, rather, he understands the difference, but only seems to care when it’s convenient for him. If nothing else, his statements have proven him to be an extremely arrogant young man.” 

Despite all the extra baggage coming along with the high school star, University of Kentucky Coach Calipari still took the athletic point guard under his wing and teamed him up with future New Orleans Pelicans All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and Phoenix Suns stud Eric Bledsoe. Together, they would rack up a 35-3 record, good for first out of 334 schools. Wall would then go on to be drafted first overall by the Wizards in the 2010 NBA draft. 

Fueled by the desire to make the most out of his new lease on life, Wall produced elite-level numbers at the professional stage. Despite the lack of team success, he kept his head down and kept improving into one of the most prolific point guards in the league.

At the prime age of 26, Wall ended the regular season averaging 23.1 points, 10.7 assists and 2.0 steals a game on 45% shooting – all career-high averages. With him at the helm of the Wizards, they amassed a 49-33 win-loss record, the best they have had in nearly 40 years.

Wall has kept up his level of dominance in the postseason as the Wizards muscled through the Atlanta Hawks. In his career-high 12th postseason game, he has again equaled the controversial series with Celtics at 3-3, with the final game to be held at Boston. 

Yet again, Wall finds himself at the face of adversity as he tries to rally past the Men in Green one more time on their own turf. But if his own life has taught him anything, it’s that he can turn an ugly situation into an opportunity to grow further as an individual. 

Crazy J may now be dead, but the legend of Wall has just begun. –

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