Baltimore’s Aquille Carr, the country’s most dynamic and exciting high school player, continues to burnish his growing legend while fighting crime in his spare time.
His YouTube mixtape highlights, with well over three million collective hits and counting, make you seriously wonder if your eyes have the capacity to lie. If you don’t already know, Aquille Carr, whose name means strong as an eagle in Latin and intelligent and wise in Arabic, is a 5-7 rising junior athletic marvel with a 48-inch vertical leap at Baltimore’s Patterson High School.
He is, without question, the country’s most electrifying high school player. Some say, pound-for-pound, inch-for-inch, he’s the nation’s best. With astounding athleticism, speed, courageousness and a scoring arsenal that is reminiscent of a young Allen Iverson, coupled with the night-goggle floor vision of Steve Nash, Baltimore’s rugged streets can no longer contain Carr’s mushrooming legend, which now stretches across the pond to Europe and afar.
It’s also a legend that came perilously close to never happening at all.
*** *** ***
The orthopedic hand specialist who performed the emergency surgery delivered the bad news to Tammy and Allen Carr almost 11 years ago.
Earlier that day, before he had the chance to blow out candles on his sixth birthday, the boundless bundle of energy was in the back-alley, playing a spirited game of touch football in the rain.
Aquille caught a pass on the run when he was pushed from behind. As the rubber soles of his sneakers slid across the wet pavement, his momentum propelled him toward a crash meeting with the rear of a brick row house. Struggling to maintain his balance, he extended a lefty Heisman stiff-arm to lessen the collision’s impact.
“My arm went right through the basement window,” says Aquille. “If somebody had banged out the rest of the glass before I pulled it out, it wouldn’t have been that bad. But by me being in shock, I just ripped my arm back out.”
In doing so, he severed numerous nerves, flexor and extensor tendons: the crucial inner infrastructure of the wrist and hand that allow you to control things like finger movement, squeezing, motor skills and the ability to open and close a fist.
“The doctor said Aquille would never use that hand regularly again,” says his father, Allen. “But he wasn’t having that.”
Within days, he could no longer contain his frustration with the cumbersome, itchy cast that engulfed his skinny wrist and hand.
“Instead of using a hanger to scratch at it, I just ripped it off,” says Aquille. “I kept pulling at it until it became loose and slid it right off.”
He took it upon himself to strengthen his left hand during every waking moment, constantly squeezing a therapeutic rubber ball, day and night.
“That’s when I knew that, physically, he was a little bit different,” says Aquille’s older brother, Allen Jr. “If I had a basketball, he’d grab it and dribble with his left hand to make it stronger.”
The youngest of five brothers who all played serious ball, Allen Sr. blossomed into a 6-2 shooting guard with abnormal hops and a sweet jumper in the early ’80s.
“Al was a tough guard who had the ability to get to the basket, could hit the shot and he had a nice little handle,” says Muggsy Bogues, the 5-3 revolutionary talent from Baltimore’s Dunbar High School who did most of his NBA damage with the then Charlotte Hornets. “He was an Allan Houston type of guard.”