- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2007

When hard times come Nick Young’s way — as they inevitably will during his rookie campaign beginning this fall with the Washington Wizards — the team’s first-round pick in Thursday’s draft likely will have another silent conversation with his deceased brother, similar to the one he had with him moments before he was drafted.

“I thought about him right before I entered the green room,” Young, the 16th overall pick, said of the area in Madison Square Garden where the draftees wait anxiously to hear their name called. “Told him to help me out.”

Young, who left Southern Cal following his junior season, never needed help on the basketball court, not where his 39-inch vertical leap and 7-foot wingspan always have made him special.

Displaying a playing style that has been compared to that of the New York Knicks’ Jamal Crawford’s, Young flaunted his gifts last season, leading the Trojans to the Sweet 16.

Young and his family have drawn strength from the memory of his older brother Charles Jr., who was killed in 1991 in a drive-by shooting.

The shooting not only ended his brother’s life, but the Young family says that they ultimately lost two sons to a murderer’s bullet. Another brother, John, suffered a mental breakdown after Charles Jr.’s murder, and remains institutionalized.

Nick Young’s story is so compelling that filmmaker Dan Forer turned it into documentary that premiered recently at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film is titled “Second Chance Season.”

The Wizards introduced a smiling Young, who averaged 17.5 points while shooting 52.5 percent from the field, as their newest addition at Verizon Center yesterday. He was accompanied by his mother, Mae, father, Charles Sr., a brother, Terrell, and his girlfriend Carol Rodriguez.

“It was unbelievable,” Young said of the draft experience. “It’s a dream come true to see all those people there. And then to hear your named called by the Washington Wizards. It’s hard to put into words.”

But not anywhere near as difficult as the road to this point, which is documented in the film.

Young, like his brother, John, also was deeply affected by the memory of his brother’s murder. The film documents his winding road through three Los Angeles high schools. He flunked out of the first two — Hamilton and Dorsey — mostly because it turned his stomach having to sit in the same classroom with members of the Blood gang that killed his brother.

“Me and my wife would drop him off at school and think he was going to class,” Charles Sr. said. “He didn’t want to be in the same room with those gang boys, so he would just walk the streets.”

Young decided to turn his life around when he was admitted to Cleveland High School. There was one final hurdle for Young to leap — getting back the athletic eligibility he lost.

Once he became eligible again, his talent earned him a scholarship from the Trojans.

“His story shows how committed he is and what kind of family he comes from,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

Perhaps the hardest part of the entire ordeal for Young and his family — as detailed extensively in the film — is coming to terms with their anger toward the killer. Because he was just 15 at time of the murder, the killer could not be tried as an adult.

As a result, he received a seven-year sentence and is now free, still in Los Angeles.

“I think about it all the time,” Young said. “I’m working on moving on. Getting drafted is somewhat of a Band-Aid. My family is strong and we all got though it by leaning on each other.”

And now the Wizards hope they’ll be able to lean on him.



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