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Patrick Ewing

"something I'd Have To Work At"

Hard work did indeed become the mainstay of Ewing's early basketball career. Ewing attended high school at Latin High School in Cambridge, where he reached his full height of seven feet, and played on the school basketball team under coach Mike Jarvis. Jarvis, and his later college coach, John Thompson, both later recalled for reporters that they often tried to curtail Ewing's unusually long and hard practice sessions for fear that he would hurt himself or a teammate out of sheer exhaustion.

Ewing also had to overcome the racist attitudes of some of his opposing team members and those who were jealous of his success. Coach Jarvis helped him through the worst of it, drawing on his own experience of growing up black in America. "You have to understand how it hits you," Jarvis told Jackie MacMullan in the Boston Globe. "I can still remember the first time someone called me that. I was riding my bicycle, and I heard it. …You don't ever forget that. But if you are Patrick, you start to realize very early in life it's part of the territory."

Through it all, Ewing learned to grow a thick skin, developing a reputation for being unemotional and ruthless on the court, and reluctant to give interviews. As he told MacMullan in the Boston Globe of this time, "Everyone looked at me like some kind of freak. The older guys taunted me. They told me I would never be anything. They said I would never learn the game. At first, I couldn't understand why they said those things. But I got used to it. And I learned not to let what anyone said affect me."

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Famous Sports StarsBasketballPatrick Ewing Biography - Born In Jamaica, "something I'd Have To Work At", Basketball's "most Important Figure"