Five years ago, Donald Ford was a chubby, 135-pound 9-year-old learning to play basketball. Today, Ford stands 6 feet 4, 169 pounds and answers to the nickname "Ewing," after former Georgetown star center Patrick Ewing.
"I started playing at 9, when I was 5 foot tall. I was real fat," said Ford, a member of the Potomac High School team competing yesterday in the final day of the Capital Area Amateur Athletic Union Games at Largo High School.
Ford, a resident of Southwest Washington, began playing football and jogging to lose weight. Now an eighth grader at Langley Junior High School, he is agile and quick for his age and size. He has traveled the country with various all-star teams. Last year, he starred on the 13-and-under Junior Olympic championship team, Police Boys Club No. 4 of Southwest Washington.
Currently, Ford, a center, is practicing with this year's 13-and-under entrant to the Junior Olympics in Iowa City, the Silver Hill Boys Club team.
"I'm there to pump the team up -- making them think they can win," said Ford, who has averaged 20 points and 16 rebounds in summer competition. "If they can win with me on the team, that will give them more confidence for Iowa."
Yesterday, he blocked the first shot taken by the Chamberlain team and broke down court for a dunk to score the first of his 23 points in Potomac's 60-56 victory.
In other events yesterday, Bullis High School senior Mike Brady, 17, ranked in the top 20 of the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association, defeated Mark Flynn of McLean, 6-1, 6-2, to win the boys 18-and-under division.
Bethesda-Chevy Chase senior Anne Tillier, ranked 16th by MATA, won the girls 16-and-under final by default over Kelly Donohoe of McLean, who missed the final.
Josh Henson, president of the sponsoring Potomac Valley AAU, said of the Capital Games, "For a first effort, it exceeded our expectations. We had over 2,000 athletes in 24 sports."