Bender helping hurricane victims recover, rebuild

Originally Published: September 23, 2008
By Anna Katherine Clemmons | ESPN The Magazine

He always knew he was different.

A long-limbed forward with a 39-inch vertical leap, Jonathan Bender stood 6-foot-7 by the time he was 13 years old. When the soft-spoken teen graduated from Picayune Memorial High School in rural Mississippi, those who saw him play called him the next Magic, the next Jordan.

But Bender, skilled enough to forego college for the NBA, had struggled with his arthritic knees, which soon became his Achilles' heel. After only six professional seasons, ...

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