When Thaddeus Hall walked off the court following New York's Public School Athletic League Class AA city title game, he and his Brooklyn (N.Y.) Thomas Jefferson teammates were dealing with a painful, 71-67 loss that cost the team a first city title since 1954. The setback was hard to take, but it pales in comparison to the other challenges that Hall has overcome in his still young life.
That's because Hall spent two of his high school years living in a Brooklyn homeless shelter. As covered in this excellent feature by the New York Post, as well as the New York Daily News and a few other sources, Hall's rise from a Brownsville shelter to the verge of a major Division I college basketball future is nothing short of astounding. In the course of two years, Hall has gone from a frequent school absentee -- due in part to uncertainty at the shelter and, later, a two-plus-hour commute from Staten Island -- to a surging student whose only hurdle for a college scholarship is ensuring that he will be academically eligible.
According to the Post, that eligibility is no sure thing. The senior has improved a once woeful GPA to 2.0, just decimal points away from a cumulative average which would likely earn him admittance to at least one of the six BCS conference schools who have offered him a scholarship.
For Hall, even being in the conversation for a collegiate basketball future is a minor miracle. While the 6-foot-5 swingman has all the talent needed to succeed at the next level, many would have crumbled under the pressure of living in a tiny shelter room with his mother and two siblings.
"I know for a fact a lot of kids in New York City couldn't have done what he's done," Hall family friend and basketball mentor Bernard Bowen told the Post. "A lot of people see he's a good ball player, but they don't know what he went through. Thaddeus has been to the bottom and back. I'm so proud of him. I hope he qualifies — he deserves it."
Of course, the trials and tribulations are an indelible part of Hall, inside and out. Just as they made success in the classroom harder for the teen, they made his competitive fire on the court inescapable.
"That's why I play so aggressive and with so much heart," Hall told the Post. "I think about what I've been through. On the court -- that's the perfect time to get everything off my chest."
If he's playing at the next level come fall 2012, possibly at nearby St. John's, it's likely that Hall -- who averaged 27 points per game in the PSAL playoffs -- will be putting his opponents through plenty himself.
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