Arizona basketball: NY state of mind

Parrom is returning to city where he's found joy, adversity
2011-11-16T00:00:00Z 2014-07-24T10:30:27Z Arizona basketball: NY state of mindBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 16, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Counting that fateful weekend when he was shot twice inside his father's apartment, Arizona Wildcats forward Kevin Parrom is now making his fourth trip home to New York in less than two months.

But that's OK. He's had plenty of good company.

"I have my mother and grandmother with me on the flights," Parrom said earlier this week. "They'll always be with me. I don't have bad memories going back to New York. I never will."

Maybe that sounds a bit counterintuitive. Parrom could be bitter and sad to return to the place where his mother and grandmother passed away earlier this year.

He could be upset over returning to the city where, after spending the day visiting his critically ill mother in a hospital, he returned to his dad's place and, police said, two men broke open a door and shot Parrom shortly after midnight on Sept. 24.

Already since then, Parrom has been home twice on unpleasant terms after the shooting, once to identify the suspect to a grand jury and another to attend the funeral of his mother, Lisa Williams. Parrom may have to return again, now that 19-year-old Jason Gonzalez was charged with attempted murder in connection with the shooting and faces a Dec. 13 arraignment in Bronx Supreme Court.

But Parrom says the memories, all the trips home, don't bother him.

"The situation happened, and I'm over it," Parrom said. "Live and learn. Now I have my mother and grandmother in my heart, and I'll always use them as motivation."

Physically, at least, there is no doubt Parrom is drastically improved. He went from having no feeling in his lower right leg while spending two days in a Bronx hospital, to having trouble walking upon returning to Tucson, to all sorts of rehabilitation work, to shooting an occasional free throw, to practicing fully. Then, two days after practicing for the first time, he played in a game.

He progressed so quickly that by the time he rejoined the team for fullcourt drills on Friday, it was obvious that nothing was going to stop him.

"Just seeing Kevin in practice," forward Solomon Hill said. "There was a fast break, and I looked back to see if he was there. He caught me on a backdoor and dunked on me. I just knew then. Kevin's the kind of person who doesn't overthink things. He just does it."

Same went for the game. Parrom found himself fighting Ball State screens during the first defensive possession he played, when the Cardinals hit a three-pointer, but he didn't let that happen again.

He finished with six points and four rebounds while taking a charge in UA's 73-63 win over Ball State, playing the kind of minutes, 18, normally reserved for somebody at full health.

He isn't at full health, maybe 90percent at best. But less than two months ago, he could have been dead. Or at least without a future in basketball had the bullet to his knee traveled a slightly different direction.

Those were only some of the possibilities Parrom's father, Kenneth Parrom, pondered during the early morning hours of Sept. 24. He was at his usual overnight shift working with cable for Con Edison, a utility company. He had left his son at his Bronx apartment where, according to UA coach Sean Miller, Kevin was spending time with an old friend after visiting his mother all day.

It was the same place Kenneth has reported to work for the last 28 years. Yet he was never interrupted with this kind of telephone call.

"It was something no parent would ever want to hear," Kenneth Parrom said. "I got the call and you pray and you run and your imagination goes all over. Where did he get shot? You have all these thoughts."

Seven weeks later, his son is playing basketball.

How did that happen?

"I told Kevin today to get on his knees and pray every night to thank God that he's able to do what he's been blessed to do all his life, getting an opportunity to play," Kenneth Parrom said a day after the game. "He's very blessed and he's very fortunate. He understands."

Parrom has healed well enough that he did not need a bandage during Sunday's game, either over the side of his right leg where a bullet entered nor on the insides of his left knuckles, where another bullet grazed him.

For him, that would be silly.

"It healed. Just little scars," Parrom said, chuckling as he recalled the toughness of a former UA teammate from nearby Harlem.

"MoMo (Jones) would probably laugh at me. We used to play in the park, and if you fell you'd get a lot of scratches. But you gotta get up and play through it. You get a bandage after the game."

The only physical issues left are mostly in the lower right leg, where Parrom's strength and speed is still reduced while a mass of muscles and nerves continues to heal.

"The body is an amazing thing," Parrom said. "You just have to let it heal on its own. Nerves take a lot of time, but I just gotta keep doing what I gotta do."

In Parrom's case, the mind is also undeniable. Virtually since he returned to Tucson three days after the shooting, Parrom set a goal of being able to play in UA's game with St. John's on Thursday.

"That's been a motivating factor," Kenneth Parrom said. "He's been wanting to play at (Madison Square) Garden for Arizona since he got to the school. All the kids who go away from New York want to come back home and play at the Garden in the Coaches vs. Cancer or against St. John's."

It's a natural feeling, the way UA coach Sean Miller sees it. Especially now.

"That's his place," Miller said of New York. "That's where he's from. That's where all the people who love him live. Of course he wants to be ready."

But UA also had to guard Parrom from disappointment, just in case he wasn't ready. Miller said earlier this month that Parrom was likely to return in mid-December and he said last Friday, two days before the Ball State game, that Parrom would not be available.

His father also tried to keep things in perspective.

"When he got hurt, we were very concerned about the injury and still are," Kenneth Parrom said. "The bullet is still in him. So at first we weren't worried about him playing so much as we were worried about him and making sure he was healthy again.

"After that, I said the next thing that's important is being a student back in school and third is playing basketball."

It was a philosophy Kenneth Parrom shared with Lisa Williams, even though the two weren't married.

"Yyou would never know it; they were a united front," said UA assistant coach Book Richardson, a childhood friend of Kenneth Parrom's.

They were a team, and part of the team is now gone.

"We raised our boy as a family, made all our decisions as a family and yes, (her death) bothered me," Kenneth Parrom said. "I believe eventually we would have gotten back together if she did not pass away."

For Kenneth, there is no basketball therapy to help with Lisa's death. Playing basketball and having the support of the UA staff has been therapeutic for Kevin, his father said, but things are different back in the Bronx.

"I'm still going through changes not believing she's not here," Kenneth Parrom said. "It's still hard for me to believe that, and I know that me and Kevin are eventually going to have to talk a little more about it. Right now he's playing basketball, and that's helped him."

But even if basketball isn't enough of a distraction, even if Parrom finds himself overcome with emotion this week, he isn't likely to show it. That's not his nature.

Parrom is a hard-nosed player from the Bronx. You get scratched and you get back up. Worry about the pain later. No matter how bad the pain really is, outside or inside.

"You'll never know what I'm thinking," Parrom said. "What's that they call it? A poker face? I have a poker face."

On StarNet: Follow the Arizona Wildcats during their nonconference schedule on Bruce Pascoe's blog at azstarnet.com/pascoe

Up next

• Who: Arizona vs. St. John's

• Where: New York City

• When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

• TV: ESPN2

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 5 0 0 1.000
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 4 0 0 1.000
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 4 1 0 0.800
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 4 0 0 1.000
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 3 2 0 0.600
California 0 0 0 0.000 3 1 0 0.750
USC 0 0 0 0.000 3 3 0 0.500
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 3 1 0 0.750
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 3 2 0 0.600
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 3 1 0 0.750
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 3 2 0 0.600
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 1 3 0 0.250

AP Top 25


Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
San Jose State at
Washington
11/27 56-78
UC-Santa Barbara at
Washington State
11/27 71-43
Rice at
Washington State
11/28 71-43
North Dakota at
Utah
11/28 71-43
Alabama-Birmingham at
UCLA
11/28 8:30 pm
Alabama State at
Utah
11/29 7:00 pm
Colgate at
Arizona State
11/29 7:00 pm
Lipscomb at
Colorado
11/30 12:00 pm
Stanford at
DePaul
11/30 12:00 pm
USC at
New Mexico
11/30 2:00 pm
California at
Fresno State
11/30 4:00 pm
Portland State at
Oregon
11/30 6:00 pm
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