“Hurry up, god dammit!”
“Coward…a person who lacks courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things….”
“That’s right, Son…very good. I’m not raisin’ no punk-ass boy, you hear me?”
“You can’t be a fuckin’ coward in this world…these vultures will chew you up and spit you
out for breakfast. Come on, let’s get you an ice cream cone.”
I had just snapped out of my trance before Gabrielle brought my drinks, and I gulped the
whiskey shot down without hesitation. The whiskey burned as it went down my throat, and it
burned even more as it entered my stomach. I haven’t slept or eaten much since Thursday
morning, and I began to sweat profusely.
“That will be seven dollars and fifty cents, sir,” she said.
“Here’s a ten,” I said in a gentler tone. “Keep the change.”
“Thank you. Let me know if you need anything else, okay? Anything.”
I nodded as I wiped my face with a napkin. I immediately followed my shot up with the beer
and finished it in a minute flat. I sat still momentarily before I flagged down Gabrielle for
another round. She just finished taking orders from people who arrived a few minutes after I did,
and the crowd was starting to pick up. I was also trying to think of a way to smooth things out
“Hit me again,” I requested.
“Okay,” she said. “Do you just want a shot or a shot and beer?”
“Give me a double shot with the beer. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll bring your drinks right away.”
Feeling inebriated would numb the pain that I was feeling temporarily, but I knew I’d pay for
it later. I also hoped no one would recognize me—I was in no mood for autograph signing. That
wouldn’t have been a problem a season ago when I was at the end of the bench. I would have
just blended in by looking like the stereotypical tall and lanky young men of my generation with
a t-shirt, baggy jean shorts and N ike sandals on. I figured that as long as I stayed in my seat,
nobody would notice me. However, that was going to be next to impossible because I felt a
bathroom break coming on very soon as the beer and whiskey began to take a toll on my bladder.
I also started feeling lightheaded because of the alcohol and sleep deprivation, and I was
certainly not thinking clearly because rage has totally consumed my mind at this point.
I was definitely at a crossroad. There I was, Maurice Ousley, a twenty- five- year-old rising
NBA star faced with the biggest decision that I would ever make in this juncture of my short
existence. Whatever happened next will change my life forever.