Philly embraces young heroes
PHILADELPHIA -- Markeyse Carter sits on his living room sofa, watching TV with his mother, enjoying a little break from football practice, when his cell phone chimes. This one has to go on speaker phone, he thinks. On the line is the gravelly voice of Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, taking a few minutes the day after defeating Lynn Swann to ask how Carter is doing and to assure him he would follow up on his pledge to help raise money for a new football field.Heroes get on the governor's agenda.
Others?"Couldn't believe we did it," said Bridgette, a 5-5, 135-pound speedy senior defensive back. "Kids kept coming up and asking us if we were the ones who saved the woman and I'd say there was about half who didn't believe us. I don't know why. They just didn't." Bangura was openly agitated, saying emphatically, "They definitely didn't believe us, and I think it's because of where we live. No one is going to believe anyone from this area can do any good. 'No black kid is going to run in to a burning building and save someone.' And this is from other black kids, kids I go to school with. Kids like me. Two weeks after we did it, other kids started getting tired of hearing about it. Hearing about us." Call it another byproduct of a negative environment.
Because of that, their worlds have expanded tenfold. Bridgette is now thinking more seriously about college. Now there's a chance he can go, thanks to the generosity and appreciation of others. He'd like to one day become a history teacher. Two months ago, it was the farthest thing from his mind.Bangura and Carter still have two more years at Overbrook. They deal with the pettiness. And some collateral positives.
"Girls that didn't pay me no mind before are all of a sudden on me," Bangura said, laughing. And they're meeting people they never imagined meeting, like Rendell, Iverson, McNabb and Howard.
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