That was the feeling that swept over me when my colleague, Robert Jordan, gave me the news that Richmond High School senior Elijah Holman was ending his high school basketball career yesterday evening.
Holman has been a stand-up kid since the beginning of the school year as he has sought reinstatement from the California Interscholastic Federation, seeking a chance to make something of his high school career after pushing an official and serving a year-long suspension. As it was described to me by Richmond principal Orlando Ramos, Elijah just wanted to be a kid for one more semester.
On Saturday night, the world in which Elijah has lived as a kid ran smack dab into the harsh reality that is Richmond’s West Cutting Blvd. Two centimeters more and the bullet that grazed Holman would have hit his spine, ending his career and possibly his life. Thoughts of Terrance Kelly, the standout De La Salle football player whose life was tragically ended in a 2004 shooting, suddenly came back to life.
I am thankful that Elijah is alive and well and I agree wholeheartedly with his decision to move out of Richmond for good. And why wouldn’t I? The young man has a long and full life ahead of him, with thoughts of Indiana University, one of the most storied college basketball programs in the country, ahead of him. There is nothing more for him in Richmond.
Sometimes I wonder if the city of Richmond — the city that I grew up in — gets a bad rap, what with it’s well documented struggles with crime. With the news that Elijah Holman has chosen to end his high school basketball career and stop attending classes at Richmond High, that reputation feels spot on to me. But please don’t think Holman and Kelly are the only ones this affects. This isn’t something that affects athletes and high-profile community members. The streets of Richmond are forcing kids to grow up a lot faster than they should have to. Richmond has abandoned its children.