April 15, 2008

Beasley, K-State leave marks on each other

Michael Beasley came to Kansas State to play basketball and go to college. In the process, a young man who grew up on the rough streets of Washington D.C. before bouncing around to prep schools throughout his four years of high school, found a home.

On Monday, Beasley announced he would forego his college eligibility to enter the NBA. The only thing standing in the way of his decision to become a teenage millionaire was his love for his new home and his teammates. And the pull of being a Kansas State Wildcat and spending more time in Manhattan almost won.

"Kansas State has been great to me," Beasley said. "They made my stay here as smooth as possible and the fans are like no other. So I kind of went back-and-forth about it for a long time."

In the end, there was only one decision to make. Even if the risk of injury that could threaten his earning potential was small, staying was a chance he could not logically take. Leaving was a sure path to millions.

Still, Manhattan yanked a Beasley's jersey tail. His time in Manhattan represented the first year since his early teens that Beasley spent time with his mother, Fatima Smith, and his four siblings, who all moved to Manhattan to be close to Mike.

Now, with their year in Manhattan winding down -- it is expected that Smith will move her family to whatever city picks her 19-year-old son in June's NBA Draft -- the charm of Manhattan has not been missed by a woman who raised her family in an urban environment and recently visited Los Angeles when her son attended the Wooden Award announcement.

"When I was in L.A and I was talking to one of the basketball assistants, I just said, 'I can't wait to get back to Manhattan.' I wished I had some red shoes I could use to click my heels together and get back to Kansas," Smith said. "What can I say? Even though I've only been here for 10 months, Manhattan is like a safe haven, even Michael said that last night."

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