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The obvious first step was high school, which was a problem. His neighborhood was in a district that sent its kids to cither L.A. High or Dorsey High. He didn't much like either of the inner-city, predominantly black schools, and he also didn't much like their football programs. He was in ninth grade, 14 years old, but already he could see how choices could be limited, talents stifled. Wouldn't it be better to go to Hamilton, a school with a racial balance, a better reputation for both education and football? He worked out the scam himself, registering at Hamilton under the address of one of his mother's friends, taking the city bus every day, then walking two miles or so from the bus stop to school. He had figured out early the tilted ways the world sometimes works. This was the maturity reflected in his choices. Daddy Warren.
By the time his deception was discovered a year later, he had become a part of the Hamilton scene and was given one of the handful of permits allotted to students from out of the district. For the first time he was dealing every day with whites, with Asians, along with blacks. The school at one time had been 95% Jewish and still had a large Jewish enrollment. He became friends with Jewish kids who came from much better economic situations. He watched them. Weren't the Jews also victims of discrimination? How did they handle that? They hung together, helped each other. They used education as a route to money, money as a route to empowerment, empowerment as a way to help people. Wasn't that the way to do it?
The football started slowly. As a sophomore he had a seat on the jayvee bench behind a booster-club father's senior son, but by his junior year Moon was the starter on the varsity. As a senior he was successful enough to be a Division I-A prospect, recruited by Arizona State and USC and other powerhouses. But they wanted him to be a defensive back, a wide receiver, something else. When what he wanted to be was a quarterback.
Was he not being viewed as a quarterback because he was a black quarterback? Or was it because he was a city quarterback matched against quarterbacks from those heralded football programs in the suburbs? Or was it...what? Whatever it was, it left him with an uneasy feeling of injustice. There were all-star teams he did not make, honors he did not receive that he thought he should have received, scholarships that were not offered.
A high school all-star game was held at the Rose Bowl at the end of his senior season. He was not selected for the game, but he went and sat in the stands with his friend Clyde Walker. Walker had watched him practice throwing for hours, had watched him go through workouts during the summers with stars at USC and UCLA and play as well as any of them. Walker watched now as Moon simply stared at the field with a fierce look on his face. No words were spoken.
But Walker thought to himself, I would bet anything that this is the last time I'm sitting in the stands with this guy, watching a football game I'm going to be sitting, watching him play. At quarterback.
He always has been the cool head, the sensible voice....
The urge was to give the middle finger, the digital salute, to the 59,000 fans at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington. Moon was at quarterback for the Huskies, who were beating Southern California 28-10 and holding on to the ball in the game's late moments. A hole opened on one of those do-nothing plays. Moon bounced through it and ran 71 yards for the touchdown.
He could not have planned the moment better. The USC roster was filled with people he knew. How'd they like this piece of work? Bring this news back to L.A. The stands were filled mostly with people he didn't know, never knew, would never know. They all were cheering at last.
"War-ren," they chanted together. "War-ren, War-ren, War-ren...."