It was 1988 and I was sitting in the living room of our 2 bedroom apartment in Downtown Calgary. I had just finished the season at St. Mary’s High School where we were crowned city champions. Despite the high of being the best team in the city I was seriously considering dropping out of high school. My dream was to play in the NCAA but I couldn’t see how it was going to happen for me out here. Best in the city and not one NCAA team knew who I was.
At that moment I turned on the television to TSN and my life would change for ever. The broadcasters were talking about Toronto’s Metro All Star Basketball Game and the dunk competition was being being aired. The favorite in the competition was Philip Dixon from Bathurst Heights CI and he was in a heated battle with Everton Shakespeare from George Harvey CI, Wayne ‘Fridge” Robinson from Runnymede CI, and few more of Toronto’s high school skywalkers.
I watched every moment in awe and when it was over I turned to my older brother and said I’m going to Toronto! I had no family there and I had only visited as young boy when I lived in Montreal. Either way I had to be where Phil was! I had never seen a player with such physical gifts and skill on this side of the American border and that was only in NBA games on television. I wanted to play in Phil’s city right away. So I begged and borrowed until I raised $1,200 and got on a plane headed to Montreal first to reconnect with my mother, sister and brothers that were still living there. Then, I convinced my mom we had to move to Toronto. By the end of the summer we packed up a U-Haul truck and headed to Toronto.
I ended up at York Memorial CI in Toronto, but never got to play against Phil because he graduated that year. I wasn’t disappointed though, because I got to experience his legendary exploits first hand through the summer tournaments; Westview, Jane & Finch, MLK and more. I also ended up with a full scholarship to Eastern Michigan U. and finished with a Bachelors of Science from American International College.
Thank you Phil for inspiring my journey and leaving me with some incredible memories. It is my privilege to induct you in our 2019 P.H.A.S.E. 1 Journey Awards – Hall of Fame for Canada on August 11th 6pm at the Renaissance By The Creek, Mississauga, Ontario.
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