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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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After high school Chad will attend motorcycle mechanics' school in Florida, working part time to pay his way, just scraping by. One night he will go to the gas station to put a gallon in the tank. The price will be 92 cents, and he'll scrounge up exactly 92 cents. He'll go inside and try to pay and the clerk will tell him he can't pay with that much small change, and Chad will see other customers staring. Finally he'll slap the pennies on the counter.

"Here it is," he'll say. "I paid for it. I'm leaving." He will drive away with tears in his eyes.

A moment later he'll stop for a homeless man with no legs. He'll let the man cross the road, wheeling his wheelchair with one hand, pulling a cart with the other. The man will look Chad in the eye and smile.

From then on, whenever he feels a twinge of self-pity, Chad will remember that smile.

We've got a whistle and a foul.

Stafford is gone with 1:41 left. Four Chiefs standing.

Two seconds later, another whistle.

And Thomas Hutchins is gone now. Hutchins is out of the game with 1:39 to go.

Thomas is best friends with Travis and Chad. They play secret games of Rook in the back of Mr. Smith's ag-science class. One day nine years later, on Feb. 26, 2001, Thomas will drive through a stop sign and hit a man playing basketball in the street. The man will fly toward the power lines and land in a field, cracking his vertebrae and puncturing a lung.

Three Chiefs standing: Robert, Chad and Chris Shelby, who comes from deep on the bench and fouls very hard.

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