High in the University of Washington's Hec Edmundson Pavilion hangs a massive white number 3 Husky jersey, one of two retired numbers in the basketball program's 108-year history.
Brandon Roy, '06 Pac-10 Player of theYear and All-American, received this highest of Husky honors in 2009.
Born and raised in Seattle, just down the road from the UW campus, Brandon took a detour and skirted a major roadblock on his way to winning the NBA's '06-'07 Rookie of the Year award.
As a senior at Garfield High School, he attacked the recruiting process like an open lane to the basket, committing to the hometown Huskies before the hoops season tipped off. This enabled Brandon to focus on basketball and his studies. "All I had to do was get my grades right," he says.
A learning disability that challenged his reading comprehension made it difficult for Brandon to qualify academically for D-I ball. After failing to meet the requirements in his first SAT attempt, he sought help through study sessions and a special exemption that gave him extra time on the reading portion of the exam.
The scores on his second SAT attempt improved so dramatically that the NCAA Clearinghouse ruled them invalid, forcing a retest. Brandon scored even higher the third time, but then his file went missing. He was cleared with the NCAA, but not in terms of UW's admission standards.
It looked like the top recruit in Washington State might be left out in the cold for the upcoming season—if he could play at all.
During the fall semester of what should have been his freshman year, Brandon worked a job scrubbing industrial shipping containers in the Seattle shipyards and kept the faith about his eligibility status while awaiting the final word. Finally, in January 2003, the university officially cleared him to play.
The experience was indeed humbling. "That was the biggest thing I've overcome," Brandon says. "It helped make me a better person and a better student in college.
"I try to stay humble and hungry. That's what keeps me moving forward in life."
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