For This High Schooler, Hoop Dreams Crash Into Harsh Reality

“It was just like one door closes another door opens.”

By Bill ZeebleJune 17, 2016 9:30 am| , ,

From KERA News: Like a lot of high school juniors, Ricky Rijos, Jr. of Flower Mound High is facing uncertainty. Ricky had dreams of playing basketball after high school. Goals have changed. He’s given up on basketball. Now he wants to graduate a semester early.

In Ricky Rijos’ professional communications class, teacher Melody Barnhart flashes a picture of Dallas Cowboys legend Tom Landry wearing his trademark fedora.

“Who is this guy?”

One student guesses Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback. Another offers Vince Lombardi, the iconic Green Bay Packers coach.

“No, no, no, no, no,” Barnhart says. “Who is it? The first name was right. His name was Tom.”

“Tom Landry.”

It’s Ricky who nails it. His love of sports runs deep. Up until a few months ago, so did his desire to play basketball for the Flower Mound High School Jaguars.

Thing is, he’s only 5-foot-6-inches tall. Last fall, coach Eric Littleton set a high bar for a kid like Ricky to make varsity.

“You better be an assassin when you shoot the basketball,” Littleton said last fall. “You better be able to shoot it from anywhere at any time against anybody. You’ve got to be able to dribble and pass and catch better than anybody. And equally important, you’ve got to have a heart that’s the size of the moon.”

Ricky couldn’t quite clear those hurdles.

“It was like the beginning of the season and I got hurt, sprained my ankle for a couple weeks,” Ricky said. “I was in the varsity gym at first and I came back after I was hurt, and I went to the JV gym and I just never made my way back to the varsity gym. And then I never really got that much playing time.

“It’s just not as fun when you’re not playing, I guess.”

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