DURHAM, N.C. – The best player in college basketball is sitting across from me in a trophy room at Cameron Indoor Stadium. A few steps away is Coach K Court, the place where, during the 19-year-old’s presumably short college career, he has already displayed to the world a preternaturally mature basketball player, perhaps the best offensive big man since Tim Duncan.At this moment, though, Jahlil Okafor, all 6-foot-11, 270 pounds of him, is bent over at the waist, his head in his hands, tears welling up in his sad brown eyes.He is talking about his mother, Dacresha “Dee” Benton, and his final memories of her. Jahlil was 9 years old, living in small-town Oklahoma with his mother, his older sister and two toddler half-brothers. The little ones were napping, and Jahlil and his sister, Jalen, were in the living room, watching music videos on BET. Suddenly, they noticed their mother, who’d been battling bronchitis for a couple weeks, start breathing hard. Really hard. She lay on the couch and kept taking these awkward breaths: labored, struggling, almost gulping for air. They thought she was joking – after all, their mom was usually joking – so Jahlil teased her back. He… Read full this story
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