And Board? He died at approximately 2 a.m. on Dec. 29, when a single bullet pierced his temple in a bedroom along the 2100 block of Roslyn Avenue in District Heights. Police ruled it a suicide. There were no witnesses and there was no note.
Few outside the D.C. basketball fraternity have heard of Jamar Board, but in many ways, everyone knows him well. He’s every child who fantasized about basketball stardom; who taped posters of Michael Jordan dunking over Patrick Ewing onto their basement walls; who counted down from three to two to one-point-five to one, until the game-winner swished and the buzzer blared; who danced alone around the driveway or playground or local gym, high-fiving the heavens as the imaginary crowd chanted “M-V-P. M-V-P.”
Most of those kids grow up and find real jobs, because for how many can basketball truly become a career? One in a thousand? One in a million?
Board was a Dream Chaser, his obituary said. While his childhood peers found wealth and fame playing professionally,he kept waiting, torching local summer leagues and running open gyms, hustling money through games of one-on-one, wondering whether the game he loved would ever love him back.
Pictures, and memories
January afternoon cold seeps through the cracked windows, slithering under Bobby Maze’s ashen sweatpants and hood. It slaps his shins, where he has tattoos of his cousin’s face and a cracked tombstone, and tugs his haircut, where a barber buzzed “RIP SILENT.” Slouched in the driver’s seat outside a local Wendy’s, Maze flips through the pictures, and the memories, of his fallen cousin.
Bobby Maze and Jamar Board. B-Maze and Silent. Cousins by blood. Brothers for life. Maze grew up among Suitland’s Homer Avenue housing projects; Board on the 1200 block of Benning Road in Capitol Heights, separated only by neighborhood allegiances and a short drive, past rundown liquor stores and steel signs proclaiming, “We Have Joined Neighborhood Watch and Operation Identification.” Venturing alone into uncharted territory meant getting jumped, mugged or worse. But Maze’s people knew Board, and Board’s knew Maze. So everything was good so long as they journeyed together, which they always did.
Basketball was their engine of survival, a permanent distraction from drug trafficking and gang violence. Each played in college — Maze at Tennessee — and developed reputations as some of the baddest streetballers in the District.