Last spring, Rickey Higgins helped lead his high school basketball team to second place in the Illinois state tournament. Then he was arrested for two alcohol-related offenses, including drunk driving, and was told his high school sports career was over.
Now he has filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming to be a recovering alcoholic and arguing that his suburban high school's disciplinary action amounts to discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"I think I deserve a second chance," the 17-year-old high school senior said yesterday. "Most people who are alcoholics think no one will help them, and I'm getting that feeling."
Legal experts say Higgins is testing a murky area of the law, which courts continue to decipher almost a decade after the bill became law. Bennett Rodick, the attorney for Warren Township High School, said the lawsuit is "clearly an attempt to broaden the ADA."
"The ADA cannot be used as a shield against the consequences of illegal conduct," he said. "I think the school has a right to expect of its athletes or anyone involved in extracurricular activities that they don't engage in illegal conduct."
Higgins, a 5-foot-11 guard, missed much of last season with a back injury. He returned to lead the team in scoring in its state semifinal victory and was named second team all-tournament. With his help, the school--located about 30 miles north of Chicago--had its best finish in the state basketball tournament last March.
Higgins was cited in April when he was the passenger in a car that contained open alcohol, and was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol after he ran into a tree in May.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, seeks Higgins's reinstatement to the team and $100,000 in compensatory damages.
A Grand Showdown
U.S. figure skating champion Michael Weiss will compete against two-time world champion Alexei Yagudin at Skate America '99 next month.
The Oct. 29-31 meet will be the first of six in the International Skating Union's Grand Prix series. The others are Skate Canada, Nations Cup (Germany), Trophee Lalique (France), Cup of Russia and the NHK Trophy (Japan).
This year, Weiss won his first national championship in Salt Lake City, then finished third at the world championships.
A Princely Unification
Flamboyant WBO featherweight champion Prince Naseem Hamed will face WBC titleholder Cesar Soto in a 12-round unification match on Oct. 22 at Joe Louis Arena.
The Englishman, who is of Yemeni descent, is considered one of the hardest punchers in boxing--pound-for-pound. But he is best known for his leopard-print trunks and his 10-minute entrances that finish with a flip over the top rope and into the ring.
"I think I've brought some flash into boxing when it badly needed it," Hamed said. "I'm supremely confident, but I always back it up."
The card, which will also include a super bantamweight title fight between Erik Morales and Wayne McCullough, will be televised live by HBO. That will mark the first time in nearly 30 years of boxing that HBO will present a card from Detroit.
On the undercard, Thomas Hearns will defend the obscure IBO cruiserweight title against Crawford Ashley.
Roy Has Hip Surgery
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy could miss up to two weeks after having minor hip surgery. Roy is expected to return to the lineup later this month.
Jim Shearer, the 28-year-old architect who caught Mark McGwire's 500th home run ball, has decided to sell it during an Oct. 30 auction in Las Vegas that also will include Mickey Mantle's 500th home run ball.
McGwire's ball, along with Mantle's, is the highlight of the auction, arranged by Michael Barnes, president of One-of-a-Kind Auctions in Festus, Mo. Last season, Barnes helped Phil Ozersky, a 26-year-old researcher at Washington University, sell McGwire's 70th home run ball. Canadian comic book tycoon Todd McFarlane paid $3,005,000 for it.
Bergomi Opts for MLS
Giuseppe Bergomi, the former captain of Internazionale of Milan and a member of Italy's 1982 World Cup champions, said he will come out of retirement to play in Major League Soccer.
Bergomi, 35, said he can't decide whether to join the New England Revolution or the New York/New Jersey MetroStars.
"I'm going to make a final decision in a few days," he said.
Anti-Drug Agency Set
Olympic officials reached agreement on the framework for a world anti-drug agency to be launched by the end of the year. But the location and head of the organization have yet to be decided.
The International Olympic Committee said documents will be finalized shortly and submitted to political and sports officials in time for the agency to be in place by Jan. 1 and fully operational before next year's Sydney Olympics.
Women Beat Brazil
The 1999-2000 U.S. women's national team defeated Brazil, 86-67, in round-robin play at the U.S. Olympic Cup at the University of California-San Diego. Forward Natalie Williams had a team-high 23 points and 15 rebounds. Center Lisa Leslie added 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Washington Mystics' Chamique Holdsclaw and Nikki McCray scored 11 and six points, respectively. . . .
Washington Wizards guard Mitch Richmond will participate in the inaugural All-Star Classic in the Capital, an NBA-sanctioned charity basketball game, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. at George Washington University's Smith Center. Other players include Chris Webber, Steve Smith, Marcus Camby and Charlie Ward. Tickets, which cost $20 and $30, are available through TicketMaster.
CAPTION: Rickey Higgins is trying to return to his Illinois high school basketball team through a unique lawsuit.