USC basketball coach Frank Martin became the subject of Deadspin and some Twitterverse ridicule earlier this week for tweeting about attending a Pitbull concert.
On Tuesday, Martin tweeted, “On my way 2 Atlanta 2 c the best performer that’s out there @Pitbull. I want our players 2 play w the same passion w which he performs.”
There instantly was some gnashing and wailing from various Twitter users, then Deadspin chimed at its website with:
“South Carolina men's basketball coach Frank Martin is some kind of walking contradiction. On the one hand, he's got a haircut befitting a goon in the inevitable Dick Tracy reboot, and when he screams at his players he looks exactly like kind of guy who relished voting for Nixon.
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“Frank Martin is a Pitbull fan, everyone (we hope you enjoyed Alaska, Pitbull). I'm not sure what exactly that means for the rest of us, except that our world will never be as it was before reading that tweet.”
Well, as with everything, there is much, much more to the story.
Like Martin, Pitbull is the product of a Cuban family in Miami. Like Martin, he grew up without a father in the picture. Like Martin, Pitbull – who is white – has battled against the odds to make it in a field while battling stereotypes.
“I understand where he comes from. It’s the same community I come from,” Martin said Thursday after attending the SC Fathers and Families’ “Decade of Dads” celebration. “I actually come from a better home situation that him, so I further understand.
“For a lot of years as a schoolteacher there were a lot of children like him,” Martin continued. “As a teacher you have to remember that you can’t give up on kids because you might be the last one that believes in who they become and help them achieve their dreams. It was his dream to rap, his dream to sing.”
A very proud Martin tweeted pictures from backstage at the concert later Tuesday night.
“To know where he was at 15 years ago then be backstage and see what he’s doing now?” Martin said. “He hasn’t lost sight. I don’t think there’s an entertainer who does more in South Florida with education than him. He has gone back and invested a bunch of dollars and time and effort in making education better in South Florida.”
MEANWHILE AT THE SC PRO-AM
Only two more evenings of hoops remains at the SC Pro-Am before tournament play tips next week.
On Thursday, Carey Rich’s little league that could added one more feather to its cap when Renaldo Balkman joined a loaded DJ’s Seafood team to take an the undermanned Steadman Hawkins Clinic juggernaut, led by Devan Downey.
With just six players, it appeared the unbeaten Downey crew had finally met its match. Powered by Balkman and former USC Aiken standout Sterling Council, DJ’s built a 29-19 lead midway through the first half.
But Downey and Sindarius Thornwell went to work, chipping away at the lead until Thornwell’s halftime buzzer beater gave Steadman Hawkins a 44-43 lead.
After the break, the two teams traded body blows until a Downey-fueled run put the game out of reach. In the end, Steadman Hawkins remained unbeaten with an 86-76 victory.
Downey dropped a game-high 24 points. Carlos Powell had 18 while Thornwell tacked on 16. Jarvis Thibodeaux out of Presbyterian also made his presence known with 17 points.
For DJ’s, Balkman finished with 17. Newberry’s Qayshawn Hawkins led the team with 21. Council finished with 13 and Sam Muldrow had 11 before taking a nasty spill midway through the second half. He sat out the remainder of the game.
In other action at Heathwood Hall:
Brookland Baptist Church 92, The Wheat Farm 71: Former Gamecock Zam Fredrick fueled the rout with 24 points. Former Heathwood Hall standout Corey Littlejohn (more on him this weekend on the blog) added 14. For The Wheat Farm, Austin Steed (East Carolina) led the way with 13 points.
First Citizens 96, Honda of Columbia 92: Eric Ferguson and newcomer AJ Caldwell each scored 24 points while Cory Etheridge had 21 for First Citizens. That trio’s effort was enough to overcome the potent duo of Jared Johnson and Josh Clyburn. Iowa Western’s Johnson had a game-high 28 points while Presbyterian’s Clyburn had 24. USC’s Lakeem Jackson chipped in 16.
Team 3 90, USC Sports Medicine 69: Former local prep star Murphy Holloway brought an Ole Miss teammate to help out his crew Thursday and the move paid off handsomely. Derek Millinghouse led all scorers with 24 points in leading Team 3 to a win. The Coker duo of Julian Nelson and Errick Bethel combined for 33 points, or one more than the Ole Miss duo after Holloway added 8 to Millinghouse’s total. Former USC player Malik Cook led USC Sports Medicine with 20 points. Keenan’s 2014 USC commitment Marcus Stroman added 13.