Bart Scott (53) (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday August 28, 2007 3:31PM; Updated: Tuesday August 28, 2007 3:31PM
Here Scott pauses and widens the image, like a cinematographer pulling back with his camera. A full life becomes visible: his career and teammates; his pregnant wife, Darnesha, and their two-year-old son, Bartholomew; the friends and coaches who have pushed him forward. "I'm playing with house money, baby," says Scott. "I wasn't supposed to make it out of Detroit. I wasn't supposed to get a scholarship. I was supposed to be running down under kicks for the rest of my life. But here I am. I'm a man playing with the house's money, and that's a dangerous man."
There was a block full of Scott's family on Hurlbut Street on the east side of Detroit, surrounded by the customary urban hazards: drugs, gangs, guns. Bart lived with his mother, whose married name is now Dorita Adams, and half-sisters Cutrice (10 years older) and Dawnyell (six years older). His father, Bartholomew Capers, whom Dorita never married, didn't live in the home, but, says Bart, was always involved in his life.
Dorita worked on an assembly line in an automobile plant, often needing three city buses and as many as six hours for her round-trip commute. "A lot of the time Bart's oldest sister was his mama," says Dorita. And Dawnyell was the family enforcer, regularly punishing Bart by locking him in the dirt-floor basement and telling him that the flames in the ancient furnace were the gates of hell. "I was battle-tested by my sisters," says Bart. "It was nothing to walk past the gangs after those two."
At Southeastern High, Scott played both ways -- running back and linebacker -- on a 22-man team coached by an old school disciplinarian named Drake Wilkins, who kept a wooden paddle in his office and wasn't afraid to use it. "I had a lot of guys who were gang members, and they always had to prove they were the toughest man on the street," says Wilkins, 50, now the coach at Denby Tech in Detroit. "There were times when I had to take a stand."
Scott says he felt the paddle only once. Wilkins and assistant coach Reinard Davis recall Bart as a force of nature. "He went 110 percent on every snap and never came off the field," says Davis. "He was unbelievable."
More than 100 schools sent recruiting letters, but his low SAT score left Scott without a college as his senior year ended. By midsummer he had improved his test score enough to ensure eligibility, but most major schools had no scholarships left. Here came a lifeline. Scott was so impressive on the field during July workouts for a Michigan high school all-star game that one of the coaches, Bryan Masi, called an old friend, former Michigan State quarterback Dan Enos, an assistant coach at Southern Illinois.