Backroads Indiana – The Shooter


It started when he was just a small kid — the shooter and his dad out in the driveway.

The dad didn’t shoot. He just stuck his hand up and made his son shoot over it, and then he rebounded for the boy. The little boy would shoot for hours, and the dad would rebound until his lifelong bad back gave out. The little boy would keep shooting and shooting, dreaming of hitting the last-second shot thousands of times, over and over.

When the boy was in elementary school, people started talking about a kid that could shoot like no other kid they had ever seen. He was already being compared to other great former local shooting legends.

The kid would shoot for hours, many of them with his dad rebounding and many of them by himself. It was the kid, the ball and a basketball goal, shot after shot. Some days, when the shooter didn’t feel like shooting, he would still shoot. He didn’t know why. He just knew he had to shoot. By the time the kid reached sixth grade, he was being asked to play on AAU basketball teams from all over Indiana. The shooter had made a name for himself, and his AAU teams won often. AAU coaches deployed special defenses against him like it was the NBA championship, but in reality, it was just sixth-grade AAU basketball.

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When the shooter’s dad’s back got so bad and he couldn’t stick his hand in the air for his son to shoot over, he did what any dad would do — he went and got help. One day, when the son was in sixth grade, the dad sent him to the driveway to play against Dale Earnhardt, the famous NASCAR stockcar driver.

As the shooter approached the drive, there stood Dale Earnhardt motionless. The 6-foot cardboard cutout towered over the kid, and the kid had to arch the ball on every shot. For months, the shooter shot over the Earnhardt cutout until finally one day, the cutout just weathered away.

The kid was not born a great shooter. The kid was born with a desire to become a great shooter. As he got older, the desire grew stronger, and he had to keep shooting. He could never take a day off. In his mind, he feared losing his touch more than anything. So he kept shooting, no matter what.

Like the time when he was in eighth grade and a snowstorm struck the community in the middle of the night, closing the school systems down. With the gyms closed, the kid had his dad drive him to the city park, just in case town officials had cleaned the snow off the basketball courts. They had not.

So the shooter did what any shooter would do — he shoveled 8 inches of snow off the court in 20-degree temperatures. After all, the shooter had to get his shots in.

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