Best College Sports Priorities: Is there a more tenacious man in the East Bay?
Four years ago, Oakland Tech hoops star Leon Powe blew out his knee, casting doubt on what had promised to be a mind-bending collegiate career. It was another heart-wrenching blow in a lifelong series of setbacks. When Powe was a toddler, his father skipped out on the family. Then a few years later his brother accidentally burned down their North Oakland home, sending the family to a homeless shelter. Then his mother died of a chronic heart condition, shortly before Powe's knee injury. Powe battled back from all of this, but then he promptly tore up his other knee so badly at Cal that he missed the entire 2004-05 college basketball season. When the 05-06 season began, no one really knew for sure whether the six-foot-eight, 230-pound wunderkind could mount one more comeback. But Powe is the epitome of tenacity. He led the Pac-10 in scoring (20.5) and rebounding (10.1) and took the Bears to the NCAA tournament. Last month, Powe announced plans to turn pro -- but there's still a chance he may return to Cal for one more year. He adamantly maintains that he's not done with his college studies -- he only has 29 credits to go. "I'm going to finish my degree," he said. "That's what my mom would have wanted."