For this to happen, Stewart told Bowie State’s players after a recent practice, everything must be done right — almost perfectly — and even then, nothing is guaranteed. It is simply the way the world works.
One of the faces following Stewart belonged to Cameron Knox, a player who is many things and has been many more. He is a 5-foot-11 walk-on guard, a 26-year-old sophomore and the father of a 3-year-old daughter named Camryn. He said he was once a criminal, a man with a different name, the owner of a wandering mind and a lost soul.
Then he was invited to play a pickup basketball game one evening at Bowie State, a historically black university of about 5,420 students located in the Washington suburbs, nearly an hour from his native Baltimore. Stewart and Bulldogs Coach Darrell Brooks spotted him, years after Knox’s last high school game. What came next changed him, and it made those who know him believe that long odds are nothing that can’t be beaten.
“Just random,” said Bulldogs forward Byron Westmorland, who invited Knox that night. “It must’ve been fate or something.”
Mistakes and regrets
The plan was to break in and grab whatever they could. Years ago, Knox said, he worked the streets, selling drugs sometimes to support himself and his siblings. He graduated from high school in 2006, and college wouldn’t pay the bills. And anyway, he believed his grades hadn’t been good enough.
Then one day his best friend proposed robbing a house in East Baltimore. Knox obliged.
“The only thing we knew,” Knox said last week, sitting inside A.C. Jordan Arena.
He said they stole a television and a PlayStation.
“Nothing much,” he said, adding that he also left with regret. From then on, he said, he’d awake each day, figuring he’d do something illegal.
Sure enough, he said, several of his friends were arrested and some are still in prison. Knox said he managed to evade police, sometimes keeping his edge with a fake ID. When anyone asked, he wasn’t Cameron Knox; he said the card identified him as “Mucho Johnson.” Knox said he was not arrested as an adult; a charge for a crime he committed as a minor, he said, was expunged from his record.
Westmorland, a longtime friend, had left Baltimore to play basketball at Bowie State. He invited Knox to stay with him sometimes, and although he didn’t plead with his friend to alter his life, he offered other activities. One morning, Westmorland asked Knox to play with him in a pickup game at a YMCA. Before long, they were playing every day.