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OTL: His Winning Season

Updated: May 6, 2009, 5:16 PM ET
By Wright Thompson
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Pat Conroy's dad hit him after games. He hit him with fists, and with open palms, hit him until blood ran from Pat's nose or lip onto his basketball jersey. Don Conroy didn't only hit his son after games. He hit him for smiling at the wrong time, talking at the wrong time, crying at the wrong time, for trying to defend his battered mother at the wrong time. On occasion, he hit him just for the hell of it. Pat's first childhood memory is of sitting in a high chair watching his mother try to kill his father with a kitchen knife, and his dad laughing while beating her to the floor. There was only one place during the long night of Pat's childhood where his father's fury couldn't touch him.

He felt safe on the basketball court.

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