B-Easy Does It (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday January 9, 2008 10:15AM; Updated: Thursday January 10, 2008 12:12PM
Beasley's scared-straight moment came during middle school, he says, when his cousin and running mate, Antwan Brookes, went to jail. "It made me realize," Beasley says, "that life wasn't a game." Within a year he hooked up with Malone, who recalls Beasley as "a big silly kid with huge feet who could hardly move." B-Easy befriended D.C. Assault teammate Nolan Smith, whose mother, Monica, had married Malone after the death of her first husband, Derek Smith, the former NBA player who died of a heart attack in 1996. The two become so close that Beasley spent many nights at the family's town house. Another way he escaped his old neighborhood influences was by using Malone's basketball connections to enroll in private schools. "My mom was always telling me you can't play basketball if you don't get your schoolwork done," says Nolan, "and after a while Mike started taking it seriously too."
"Michael respected Curtis as a father and Monica as a second mother," says Fatima, who moved to Manhattan, Kans., last summer with the entire family: her longtime boyfriend, Calvin Couch, and her children, Leroy, 20, Mychaela, 16, Malik, 9, and Tiffany, 4. A staff manager for a medical practice, Fatima also attends games, writes a blog (Mama Sayz) for The Wichita Eagle and keeps a hawk's eye on her middle son, who lives with teammate Bill Walker in a freshman dorm a mile away from her house. After Michael got a speeding ticket last fall, Fatima confiscated his black 2003 Chevy Tahoe for two weeks and made him write an apology letter to her.
Ask Fatima why Michael attended seven schools in five years and she doesn't hesitate: "He was a prankster, from one school to the next." B-Easy's grades were rarely an issue, but his Bart Simpson-like exploits spanned the southeastern seaboard, from the National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Md., to the Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute to the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. He avoided trouble during a year of certified homeschooling while playing for Riverdale (Md.) Baptist High ("the fewer people he was around, the better he was as a student," says Curtis), and Michael finally appeared to have found a home when he and Nolan spent their junior seasons at Oak Hill Academy, a basketball powerhouse in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
Beasley averaged 20.1 points and 10 rebounds, but even Oak Hill officials tired of his shtick. "I don't mean any harm," Beasley says. "I just like to have fun." He'd break curfew. He'd win dunk contests wearing a SpongeBob Squarepants hat. He'd flout rules against wearing short pants in school by sporting pajamas and homemade "Capri pants." ("That was tight," says former Oak Hill teammate Lawson. "Nobody ever thought of that.") But the final straw was the result of a bet with Lawson to see which of them could sign his name in black marker on the most objects in the school. "Dumbest thing I ever did," says Beasley. "Ty was smarter than I was -- he'd sign on bedposts and places that wouldn't get him in trouble. I signed staplers, ceilings, doors, water fountains, bathroom stalls. Everywhere."
With two weeks left in the school year, Oak Hill officials called Beasley into a meeting and told him, No more nonsense if you want to come back next year. He agreed. The next day they discovered mb-easy written on the headmaster's car. "It was done before he promised not to, but it didn't matter," says Fatima. "I was like, 'Michael, why?' " Beasley's next destination was Fitchburg, Mass., and Notre Dame Prep, which he led to last season's prep school national championship.
High school odysseys don't preclude success in the pros -- Phoenix Suns All-Star Amaré Stoudemire, for example, attended six high schools in three years -- but the lack of stability is a potential red flag for any team that's considering drafting Beasley. "He loves the gym, he'll do 100 reps without even flinching, and he was never a mutt in practice," says Wainwright. "You just wish there was a little more consistency in his life. You can have a wonderful piece of marble, but if you've got nine people working on it, you may not get the full effect of what one master craftsman may be able to do."