At about the same time Chris asked Charles, who is 5'11", if he would ever get taller. "I told him, 'I can't help you with that,'" Charles recalls. "That's between you and God." So that night Chris got down on his knees and beseeched the Great Point Guard for an assist. "Lord," he said, "please give me some height." And that's how he ended his prayers every night for several years.
Whether it was divine intervention or his mother's cooking--in particular, the tuna-beans-and-hot-dog casserole Robin made every Thursday night--Chris grew to 5'2" by his sophomore year, and spurted another eight inches by the end of his junior year. He walked into the kitchen one day when he was 16, looked down at his 5'6" mother and said, "I've got you now."
"I knew God wasn't going to get carried away and make me 7'2"," says Chris. "He just gave me enough to get by."
As he was growing, Chris was also honing his competitiveness on the basketball court in the family's backyard. A heated sibling rivalry developed. "We didn't finish most of our games, that's how bad it would get," says C.J., who is two years older than his brother. "Sometimes my mother would leave work early, just so she could control us."
"My big brother and his friends tried to pick on me a lot, but I was always ready to stand up for myself," Chris says. "I can't stand to lose. Even today, I'll be playing one-on-one against my cousin, who's 11. I'll let him have his fun, but in the end I'm going to win. That's just the way it is."
paul didn't make the varsity at West Forsyth until he was a junior, but as a senior--now possessing the size that enabled him to make the most of his talent--he was named a McDonald's All-American. Off the court Paul was elected president of his sophomore, junior and senior classes. As head of the junior prom committee he got up at sunrise on the day of the event to help decorate the ballroom. Then he and Charles hustled to Charlotte, where Chris led his team to an AAU state championship before they sped back to Lewisville so Chris could attend the prom.
"He wasn't one of those kids who delegated, either," says West Forsyth's principal, Kurt Telford. "He was involved with everything. Kids get pigeonholed a lot--they're jocks, they're nerds, they're skateboarders. Chris could talk to any of them."
"I always had something [to do]. If it wasn't a practice, it was a meeting," Chris says. "It made me feel like I was a part of something besides just basketball. My parents beat it into my head that this is just a game. It can be taken away from you in an instant."
So can life, as Chris learned during the autumn of his senior year. The day after he had signed his letter of intent to play for Wake Forest, his maternal grandfather, Nathaniel Jones, was beaten to death outside his Winston-Salem home by five teenagers who were robbing him. The day after the funeral, in a game against Parkland High (the school Jones's assailants attended), Chris honored his grandfather by scoring 61 points (his previous career high was 37)--one for each year Jones had lived. He got to 61 on the first of two free throws. On his second shot Chris tossed up an air ball, went to the bench and collapsed in tears.
The story behind his big scoring night drew national attention, just as his performance (10 assists and the sportsmanship trophy) at the McDonald's All-Star Game did four months later. That winter he spent many hours at Wake Forest watching the Demon Deacons practice. "My son, who at the time was an assistant at Wofford, heard about it and asked him once why he came all the time," Prosser recalls. "Chris said he was trying to learn the plays so he could get a head start on next season."