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2 on 5
THOMAS LAKE
December 08, 2008
One night in 1992, in a small town in Alabama, the North Jackson Chiefs won a game against seemingly insurmountable odds. Then came the crashes and the gunshots and one man's fateful choice
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December 08, 2008

2 On 5

One night in 1992, in a small town in Alabama, the North Jackson Chiefs won a game against seemingly insurmountable odds. Then came the crashes and the gunshots and one man's fateful choice

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Robert is fast for a big man. He reaches the left block. Five on two, and nobody boxes him out.

—No good. Robert Collier on the follow—

Robert grabs the rebound and at last he pump-fakes. The kids go flying, and he is wide open.

After high school, Robert will bounce from one coast to the other, doing demolition work here, pouring iron there. He will come home, get married and coach his stepson in football. His wife will die in 2007 from complications of diabetes and hypertension. Robert will be in rehab at the time, for his addiction to alcohol and cocaine.

—IT'S GOOD! ROBERT COLLIER MADE THE SHOT!

Years will go by and Robert will think of this game only when someone else brings it up. Even then it will feel hazy, dreamlike, as if maybe it never happened.

Robert won't set his father free from prison. He will follow him in. In 2005 police will say Robert stole a man's wallet and inhaler and beat him. He will plead guilty to second-degree robbery and be put on probation. In June 2008 he will break a man's jaw and steal his cellphone and cigarettes. He will be charged with third-degree assault and third-degree theft, and his probation will be revoked. Big Robert Collier will win an appeal to change his death sentence to life without parole. Little Robert will be scheduled for release in 2023.

Five seconds. [Fort Payne's] Mosteller down. He missed!

Two old hoops will hang above the jail yard, but basketballs will be scarce. Robert will fashion one from white socks and string.

The Chiefs get the ball and—

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