As a young boy growing up in Windsor Terrace, I was hurting.

Not hurting physically, I was one of the better conditioned kids in the area despite being on the skinny side. I don’t ever recall having a sprained ankle, a broken leg or knee problems.

I was competing all over the place battling in the lot, the boys and girls schoolyards, PS 154’s and of course the streets. Not to mention rough tackle WITHOUT equipment in Prospect Park.


This young boy was hurting mentally.

Little did I realize at the time that each day was a struggle.

But all along I was unaware that inside of me there was a much better person.

Lack of courage, fits of rage and a chip on my shoulder were three things I experienced each and every day. Making fun of people, teasing and being downright annoying. You could have called me an “attention whore.”

If anyone has ever taken a Psychology course in college, we know where this behavior stems from.


Lack of confidence.

Need I go on?

I saw it all.

Wait, I’ll give you more…

Domestic abuse.


Lying, cheating and most of all the absence of love.

Human compassion was missing in this young boy’s life.

The will to fight through problems was another trait I lacked. When things got hard, I quit. Just gave up and moved on to the next thing.

A work ethic. I hated to do anything that required physical or mental fortitude.

“Get a job!” they said.

“Screw you, I ain’t working!” I replied.

Goal-setting? Oh I wanted to play in the NBA someday but that desire ended at the age of 14 when I dropped out of Power Memorial after three days; no check that, I actually went for two days. On the third day I got off the train on my way to school, crossed the subway platform and went back home.

Bishop Ford was where I wanted to be as a student. Many of my friends were there. I thought if I had just said something, went up there and walked into the attendance office and declared, “I want to be a Falcon!” I’m sure things would have been different in my life. But that wasn’t me. I didn’t have it inside of me.

Funny thing is there were a few responsible, interested adults outside of my home willing to help. But I never told them what I wanted to do. Never told them I wanted to play basketball for Bishop Ford.

But of course being the stubborn prick I was, I refused anyone’s effort to reach out to me and put me on the right track.

There were countless attempts to get me back in school.

I recall someone on ninth avenue telling me, “you really should be in school getting an education.”

I looked at them and said, “screw an education...”

Matter of fact, not only did I attend Power Memorial, the school where Kareem Abdul-Jabber and Chris Mullin attended but I enrolled in John Jay three different times over the span of two years.  Include a short stint at LaSalle Academy (a student at the all-boys, Catholic  school stole my leather bomber right out of my locker) mom also tried to place me in an alternative school somewhere out in Canarsie.

That experiment lasted less than a week.

You had to take two buses to get there.

Plus the kids there were weird.

Those that know me, can probably figure out that discipline was not one of my strengths.

One of my biggest problems as a teenager as I look back was trust. I didn’t have any of it not only in myself but in others as well.

Can you blame me?

My father left me when I was five. Just got up and left mom to raise three kids. What kind of man does that?

The prick also promised me so many things over time only to fail me by going back on his word each and every time.

The morning of my first Holy Communion I woke up all excited.  Mom wasn’t there. She must have been working late or hanging out with her friends.

I was eight years old (my brother, who was twelve helped dress me and send me off to the church).

When I see kids today struggling either academically or socially, the first thought that pops into my mind is, I wonder how their home life is?

Because that’s where I firmly believe it all starts.


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13 Responses to KING OF PAIN

  1. Glenn Thomas says:

    Some guys never were able to dig themselves out of those issues that you mentioned to go and lead good lives. You did and should feel proud about that accomplishment for the deck was certainly stacked against you back in those days, It’s not how far we fall in life but rather how far we “bounce” as in bounce back and react to those situations. It’s OK to revisit and remember those tough years from time to time but that is way back in the rear view mirror for the road ahead is full of great things ahead for you. Stay positive always!

    • hoopscoach says:


      Thanks my man…appreciate your thoughts and always cherish our friendship. Its people like you that got me through those days. You served as a role model! Someone who did it the right way.

      Like the Beatles lyrics, “I got by with a little help from my friends…”

  2. Maureen Rice (Flanagan) says:

    We would be surprised to know how much the people with the so-called “regular life” had their own issues..I know I envied people in school that I thought had a regular life, both parents in the home, lived in a house rather than an apartment, only to find out in later years- all was NOT well there…

  3. Joe Costantino says:

    So True. Another great human interest story.

  4. Pat Fenton says:

    That’s a wonderful piece of writing about growing up in Windsor Terrace, Steve. I suppose what saved me is that living on 17th Street with such large families was like living in a Irish working-class opera. And I knew that a good part of the neighborhood and my friends were living the same life as me, misery and good times combined.

    And yeah, it still hurt at times, but I hit a certain age in my life when I just stopped trying to figure out, “what’s it all about Alphie.” All of us got through growing up in Winsor Terrace with some scars on our back, some deeper than others, but we made it. Most of us. And to me, that’s what it’s all about. We made the cut .

    I have an awful lot of respect and admiration for you Steve, and what you went through and who you turned out to be. And what you do. If they ever have an awards dinner in the basement of Holy Name for people who make you proud of coming from Windsor Terrace, you and Bob Rice and Jack Malone will be at the very top of my list. And Maureen Rice too.

    • hoopscoach says:


      You have been outstanding on the blog.

      I admire you too.

      Great feedback, thanks.

      We need to have a beer together; soon as I get into town. Not sure when that will be though. Maybe this summer?

      All the best!

  5. jimmyvac says:

    The starting line is irrelevant… how you finish is what counts.You are in the middle of the race and in the lead.. You are a great mentor, father, husband, brother and friend. The hurt angry kid has turned into a hell of a good man.

  6. Karen says:

    You should be very proud of the husband, father, man & coach you have become. The child with those insecurities & lack of confidence no longer exists. He has become a great role model for his daughter & players.

  7. Annie Cooper says:

    I didn’t know these things about your life, Red.

    I wish I’d had some more insight because I used to just feel angry with you.

    I apologize, in retrospect, for not taking more time to figure you out and understand your world.

    Courageous words, these, you’ve written here.

    (Annemarie McGrath)

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