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Schea Cotton and Lenny Cooke Discuss HS Hoops, Disappointments At NYC’s #CottonCookeUnedited

In the last twenty years, the names Schea Cotton and Lenny Cooke carried much weight in AAU hoops.

In the last twenty years, the names Schea Cotton and Lenny Cooke carried much weight in AAU hoops.

The two shined in an era where the preps to pros culture was the norm. Manhattan was bumping and jumping on Friday (April 22) when the high school basketball legends came together for the first time in an exclusive and 'UNEDITED' panel at the Microsoft Flagship Store. There they discussed their journeys, after the stardom, starting over and telling the world, "what happened," in a discussion moderated by Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, host of CBS Sports Radio’s Brown and Scoop and a writer who has covered the two extensively.

Cotton, now 37, was the cream of the crop in the late 90s. Mentioned nationally among top players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Baron Davis, Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson, the former high school All-American was a star at Saint John Bosco and Mater Dei. Cotton averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds, leading Mater Dei to a 36–1 record. After a myriad of red tape issues with the NCAA over questions of SAT testing, he was unable to play for Long Beach State where he’d have joined his brother, nor would he be able to play at UCLA where he’d have been teammates with Baron Davis.

Following that controversy, he had a prep school stint at St. Thomas Moore High School in Connecticut. Cotton, an explosive combo shooting guard/small forward would end up going to Alabama where he played out of position at power forward. Cotton declared for the 2000 NBA Draft where he went undrafted. After playing professionally overseas for 10 years, Cotton now trains the next generation of kids and also travels around the country speaking to the next generation about the importance of making good choices. “Basketball is something that I did, it's not who I am,” Cotton told the crowd at the panel.

“For these kids today, I tell them to go to class. Take care of your books.”

In 2001, Lenny Cooke, a Brooklyn, NY native, was a man among boys. A 6’6 slasher who in high school scouts ranked ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and Miami Heat's Amar’e Stoudemire was a stats stuffer at Northern Valley High School in Old Tappan, NJ. Cooke averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks and looked primed to make a splash in the NBA. But just two years later, Cooke found himself playing ball not for an NBA team, but for the Shanghai Dongfang Sharks.

During an ABCD camp high school basketball tournament run by Sonny Vaccaro in Teaneck, NJ, Cooke’s AAU team went head to head with LeBron James’ team. Cooke’s team had the lead and possession of the basketball. James stole the ball, scored on a fast break and won the game, in a play that introduced the world to the Akron, Ohio born baller who was later featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the cover titled, “The Chosen One.” Many believed that that play was a turning point for Cooke’s career. "LeBron deserves all that he got because he worked at it,” said Cooke. “I didn't. I went off of talent."

Cooke, now 33 lives in Virginia and is involved with hoops in some capacity, coaching at high school camps. "My name is Leonard Cooke, not Lenny,” Cooke said at the panel. “I am more than basketball. I'm a dad and I want to travel the world and inspire kids." Ironically enough, he enjoys cooking, a craft he picked up while playing overseas. He plans to go back to school, get a degree and coach basketball.

Currently, Cotton’s documentary, Manchild, The Schea Cotton Story: A Dream Deferred, has been making its rounds in screeners across the country. Cooke was the subject of a documentary directed by brothers Josh and Benjamin Safdie who travel back in time and takes you through the life of a guy who had it all at an early age. SLAM Magazine, Parade Magazine and ESPN specialty shows like “The Life” were where Cotton and Cooke would get their shine in an age that existed before platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube. Both think that things would be different had those things existed back then. "If there was social media when I played I'd be in a mansion overlooking the ocean,” said Cotton.

"If there was social media when I played I would have a million followers,” said Cooke.

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Michael Jordan Reveals Plans To Launch NASCAR Team Next Year

Michael Jordan is beefing up his resume. The NBA legend and business mogul has added NASCAR team owner to his list of accolades.

Jordan is partnering with three-time Daytona 500 winner, Denny Hamlin, to launch the team in 2021. Bubba Wallace has been tapped as a driver.

In an interview with NBC Sports, Jordan spoke about how the collaboration came together and confirmed that he’ll be just as competitive in NASCAR as he was in basketball. “It was one of those things, again, it’s always been on my mind,” he said of owning a team. “I go with my gut feeling. When the time is right you know it. When this was presented to me, I felt good about it. When Bubba was involved in the whole conversation I felt good about it.”

Jordan continued, “My biggest conversation with Denny was, ‘Look, I don’t want to get in there to just go around the races and just go around and around and around and finish up 18th, 19th, 20th, 30th. I want to win. I want to be put in a position for the best chance for us to win. That’s my competitive nature. That’s always been who I am.”

As one of only two Black co-owners for a Cup team (the first is Brad Duagherty) and the first Black majority owner in NASCAR, Jordan hopes to provide more opportunities for Black people in the sport.

“To me, you’re basically diving into a situation where very few Black people have been present into the NASCAR arena. In essence, you’re going in with the opportunity to expand that and to give a different lens to NASCAR as a whole,” he explained. “For so long, it’s been viewed from a negative aspect with the Confederate flag and all these other things that occurred.

“Now you go in with NASCAR making an effort to change the perspective and try to attract and connect to the next generation without losing something for today’s authenticity of the sport presented an opportunity for me to get involved in this whole process and know that I am spearheading a thought process of Blacks getting involved in NASCAR when in essence very few have since 1960s (when Wendell Scott competed and owned his own cars).”

For current NASCAR fans, the 57-year-old retired athlete noted that he isn't trying to “change and shape NASCAR.” Still, Jordan hopes that fans who have followed his career will support NASCAR as well.

“I go in with my passion. I hope that whoever knows Michael Jordan or whoever supports Michael Jordan, whoever supports NASCAR [sees] this as an opportunity to enjoy the sport.”

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WNBA Player Maya Moore Marries Wrongfully Convicted Man She Helped Get Out Of Prison

When WNBA star Maya Moore first met her now husband, Jonathan Irons, their relationship was strictly platonic. Things changed after she helped to get his wrongful conviction overturned, and the happy couple recently tied the knot.

“We wanted to announce today that we are super excited to continue the work that we are doing together, but doing it as a married couple,” Moore told Good Morning America on Wednesday (Sept. 16). “We got married a couple months ago and we're excited to just continue this new chapter of life together.”

Catch us tomorrow on @GMA with @RobinRoberts! #winwithjustice pic.twitter.com/0z1B1RRS2b

— Maya Moore (@MooreMaya) July 2, 2020

Irons was 16 years old when he was tried as an adult and falsely convicted by an all white jury and sentenced to 50 years for a burglary and shooting. He maintained his innocence throughout, but he would have never been convicted had the case been handled properly. Aside from being wrongfully identified in a lineup, fingerprint evidence that could have proved his innocence was withheld from his lawyers. After serving 23 years for a crime he did not commit, Irons' conviction was overturned in March.

Moore, 31, has known Irons, 40, since she was 18 years old. The two met through a prison ministry program and their relationship slowly transitioned from a friendship to romance. Irons confessed his love for Moore while incarcerated at Missouri's Jefferson City Correctional Center. “I wanted to marry her but at the same time protect her because being in a relationship with a man in prison, it's extremely difficult and painful. And I didn't want her to feel trapped and I wanted her to feel open and have the ability any time if this is too much for you, go and find somebody. Live your life. Because this is hard.”

He popped the question in their hotel room following his prison release. “It was just me and her in the room and I got down on my knees and I looked up at her and she kind of knew what was going on and I said, ‘will you marry me,’ she said, ‘yes.’”

Moore, a small forward for the Minnesota Lynx, is taking a break from basketball and has been working alongside her husband to encourage people to vote. The newlyweds also plant to advocate for others who have been wrongfully convicted.

See more on their love story in the video below.

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Vanessa Bryant Calls Out L.A. Sheriff In Defense Of LeBron James

Vanessa Bryant came to LeBron James’ defense after Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva challenged the NBA star to donate $175,000 in reward money to help catch the suspect who shot two officers in Compton last weekend.

“This challenge is to LeBron James,” Villanueva said on Monday (Sept. 14). “I want you to match that and double that reward. Because I know you care about law enforcement, you expressed a very, very interesting statement about your perspective on race relations and officer-involved shootings and the impact it has on the African American community and I appreciate that.”

Taking to her Instagram Story on Monday, Vanessa tagged James in a reposted a comment that read: “He shouldn’t be challenging LeBron James to match a reward or ‘to step up to the plate.’ He couldn’t even ‘step up to the plate’ and hold his deputies accountable for photographing dead children.” The statement was in reference to deputies taking photos at Kobe Bryant's crash site. The grieving widow also reposted another comment reading, “How can he talk about trusting the system? His sheriff’s dept. couldn’t be trusted to secure Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash scene, his deputies took and shared graphic photos of crash victims. Vanessa Bryant is suing them.”

In January, Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, died in the tragic plane crash along with seven other victims. According to Vanessa’s lawsuit, Villanueva assured her that the crash site had been secured.

“In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff's deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches,” the claim states. “As the department would later admit, there was no investigative purpose for deputies to take pictures at the crash site. Rather, the deputies took photos for their own personal purposes.”

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