When the density of the jungle is too thick you have 2 options, you can either cut through or take a short cut. Most people say I was born with a machete in my hands. So my 11th grade year I was going through it.
My previous playing experience at Palm Springs High was horrible in totality, dismal at best. That was the old Eyba, who couldn’t weather the storm. The new Eyba put meteorology on the map.
Once again my father comes home and throws us one of his famous monkey wrenches. We was moving up in the mountains to 29 Palms, a small military town. The town was built on a hill, its main street rose to its apex to a four way. To the right down the hill was the park and the Jr. High where the high school played its games. Both park and Jr. High held the largest grass area in town. To the left was the high school, and straight ahead is the military base.
The population of black youth was slim, and we stuck together like this was the 60’s and 70’s. There was only one black kid that rode the bus with me, his name was Rabbit, and he was wild and loud. I didn’t seek out his friendship, he just gravitated towards me.
We stayed in the off-base housing, which was a massive area of two-story quadplexes on the right up the hill from the park. Our house did not face the road, it faced a hill, and right up the hill was a basketball court. I had to catch the bus at the park, and would ofen stop at Rabbit’s house to and from school.
One day we was making our way through the shortcut to Rabbit’s house, when we was cut off by 7 white kids. They confronted Rabbit and commence to beat the hell out of Rabbit. I was never acknowledged this had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t just let these dudes beat Rabbit like that I was with him.
So I grabbed the closest kid to me and started to deliver multiple fist to his face. He was a big kid, me not so much, but size has nothing to do with fighting. He grabbed me and tried to slam me. But in Jr. High I was on the wrestling team, I reversed momentum and slammed him instead. Once I was on top of him I could pick my shots. He screamed for help, and four kids ran over to help him.
Since we were in the dessert we was kicking up alot of dust. Visibility was minimal, when the kids ran over throwing punches, I rolled placing him on top of me, and his friends was beating the snot out of him. He screamed for them to stop, and before they could stomp like a Q-dog, I rolled again getting him off me, and jumped the fence to Rabbit’s yard. I ran in the garage looking for a weapon, all I saw was a hammer. I came back over the fence swinging the like Thor. The kids ran off.
Some how the school got wind of the altercation, and Rabbit and I got suspended because technically we are still the school jurisdiction until we cross the threshold of our homes. Nothing happen to the 7 white kids they was the jocks in the school. My mother was livid, the technicality she felt was racist, but it was said the 7 kids drove to school went home and then drove to cut off Rabbit.
These 7 jocks was later become my teammates, and the one I grabbed was the starting QB. During 2-a-days we both was in for a surprise. The leader of the gang was the starting receiver, and when it was time to run routes, he tried to muscle his way to the front of the line, but I was there, and I wasn’t moving. He let it go, I guess he didn’t want to feel what his friend felt.
The route was a simple 5 and out, I ran the route, when I looked back for the ball it was inches from me face, I had to matrix the catch, I had to lean all the way back to catch the ball. I got a couple claps for a good catch. The leader of the gang was next, the starting QB muscled his way to do it over, and he threw a perfect pass. The leader of the gang dropped the ball. I laughed, and I laughed every time I caught the ball that was thrown at me. None of the passes was thrown to me. every pass that I caught made the QB madder.
During a water break the leader of the gang came to bury the hachet, and I asked him what was up with his QB, and he said that he’d get over the ass whipping. But it didn’t look like it, because the more passes I caught theharder he threw the ball, and he had an arm like Bret Farve. He broke one receiver’s hand. It was all comical to me.
Once again I was the fastest kid on the team, and on deep routes he easily overthrew the other receivers but not me. We ended with 7 on 7 drills, coach told him to throw me a stop and go. When he pumped me for me to go, he was suppose to take another 3 step drop and let the ball go. He didn’t do that, he took one step and threw it with everything he had. I took off, but the ball was too far, I accelerated, and at the last minute I dove for the ball. It hit my fingertips, I flicked the ball back to me, and ended practice on that play.
Since I was the fastest kid on the team I started as wide receiver, free safety, I was the return man on punts and kickoffs, I was the gunner on punts and kickoffs. I never left the field except for timeouts and halftime.
The season almost ended before it began. The first week of school ends with the first game on Friday. Monday coach calls me into his office ad he goes on and on about how he had great expectations for me and this year, but none of that matters because I failed the 10th grade and I wasn’t eligible. I told coach that passed, I was taking 11th grade classes. I knew I failed Algrebra, not because of my grades but because it was first period, and when I first moved to the 2-9 I didn’t want to be here. I would miss the bus, and then just walk the 45 minutes to school.
Coach told me to go get it straight in the guidance counselor’s office. There I foundI had failed because of the attendence policy which was like 13 days. The counselor gave me a print out of the days I missed. I knew I missed like 30 days in the first period, thats’ why I made it up in summer school.
The other classes had me missing one period then present the next period. There were too many inconsistences. When I came to school I didn’t cut class because there was nothing to do.
I had a thing about my name, it’s pronounced E-bay, reading it you might have said it wrong, and when you do the first time I correct you, after that I ignore you.
I found it funny thatI got a notice about the math class but nothing about the other classes. When I got home I looked at the work from the previoius year, and because I am a very organized person all my notes was dated. Some of the dates matched the dates reported I was absent.
The next day I went to all my old teachers showing them that I was present on most of the days they had me absent. They checked their lesson plans and actually seen grades for me for that day. I was given credit for the days, but I was still short one day.
I skipped school the next day, and rode my bike to base which was about 5 or 6 miles from my house. I got a check up from a doctor, and they gave me an excuse which was back dated a couple months for a day I actually skipped school.
I brought all the paperwork to the guidance counselor, who processed, and told me I officially passed the 10th grade. This would make me eligible, but we didn;t know if Iwould be able to play the first game because everything was turned in Thursday.
Last period on Friday, I watched everybody get on the bus to the Jr. High. I was sitting in front my locker when coach came in and asked why didn’t I go to the Jr. High? I told him I wasn;t playing so it made no sense. He smiled and said the paperwork was processed in time for me to be eligible to play.
When I walked into the Jr High’s locker room with coach, the room got real quite, the leader of the gang asked was I playing and when I said yes, the locker room exploded.
That night I was on another level. I wanted to show the haters I was the real deal. The first quarter I caught my first high school touchdown, and had one of those unreal moments, where I just stared at the ball. The referee kept asking for the ball, but I couldn’t hear him, all I could hear was my heart beating wildly.
I snapped out of it when my teammates came to congratulate me. I also caught my first high school interception. I was on a roll. Late in the 4th quarter I caught a 40 yard bomb and ran it another 30 yards to the end zone. Coming off the line I never looked back, I knew where the ball was going to be, when I raised my hands and looked up the ball dropped right in my hands.
After the game my mom jumped on me like a cheerleader, she was horse from screaming so much. To say she was surprised would be an understatement, all she remember is my 9th grade diabolical season,
After that game my name went from zero to a hundred real quick. Everybody knew Eyba. How majority of the girls got my number was a mystery. I was getting so many calls my mom would take the phone off the hook. This was a new experience fo me. Normally, I’d have a girlfriend and be cool and content, but I was single and had the prettiest girls in school checking on me.
Since this was a military base our school was diversified. So white, black, hispanic, and asian girls was calling. I went to a houe party, and left with a girl I’ve known since coming to 29 Palms. We went to my potna’s house because his mom was always gone.
The girl I was with had a boyfriend that was a Marine, and he found out I left the party with his girl. He started calling and threathening me. I found out he was the crazy type, and I guess he thought I was the average little football player and would be scaried.
One night my mom, dad, and little sister went to the drive thru, which played double features.The calls started while I was on the phone with my potna, I told the dude to come get some. I clicked back over to my potna and told him dude was tripping. He said he was on the way. He lived in the same housing unit up by the b-ball court.
My dad is a Marine, and have guns. My potna was from Detriot, so I know he was battle tested. When he came over he had a baseball bat, I guess he didn’t know what time it was.
I gave him a shotgun and I had the 9. We was war ready. Somebody was at the door, when I seen the door knob turn, I knew it wasn’t dude. I grabbed the guns and hid them behind the sofa.
My parents came in, and went straight upstairs. Less than a minute my mom called me upstairs. Some how my dad seen the guns, and I don’t know how, he only glanced into the living room.
My mom was ballistic, she was a second from punching me in the face. She demanded to know what I was doing with the guns. Normally, I’d lie, but the look on her face told me that any stupid or false answer, and all hell was going to break loose. My dad had a face of calm, which told me I was going to get jumped.
When I told the truth, it sounded like a lie, before my mom could swing, my dad came to my rescue. He knew I was telling the truth.
I guess that was the last straw, I was on the next plane to Louisiana. I
n a teenager’s quest for popularity they would do absolutely anything to get on that list. I didn’t do anything to get on the list, Ijust caught a football and was in the newspaper. When I was a nobody, I didn’t have people trying to kill me.
It’s hard to navigate in this part of the jungle because this terain isn’t on the map, but when you have mo popularity, you have mo problems.
Categories: Eyba Brown