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stephen copeland features

That summer, John Morris would sit in church every Sunday and feel his eyes well up. His wife would look at him, concerned. “It’s okay,” he’d say. Then she would hold his hand. But he wasn’t okay. How could he be? How can you be okay when a player kills—kills—another player? When the town you’ve lived in for 25 years—Waco, Texas—is a media circus, the center of one of the most catastrophic scandals in college basketball history? When the school you love—your employer for the last eight years—is like an exploding building, collapsing in slow motion for the entire nation to see...

There’s a stairwell that leads to a lonely apartment on Hinesley Avenue, down the street from Hinkle Fieldhouse. Rotnei Clarke, one of the nation’s top college basketball players, used to crawl up the stairs to the second floor, casts on his feet, questions on his mind, doubts flying like arrows over the walls of his soul...

When you grow up a Zeller, you have some big shoes to fill. And it’s not just because Luke and Tyler wear size 18 and 19 shoes, respectively. The eldest brother, Luke, led Washington High School to an Indiana Class 3A championship, swooshing a miracle heave from mid-court his senior season in 2005. The middle brother, Tyler, the 17th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, led the Hatchets to another title in 2008 and set an Indiana scoring record during his senior campaign. And to top it off, both received the illustrious Indiana Mr. Basketball award and were named McDonald’s All-Americans their senior seasons...

Aaron Baddeley was wearing sweatpants, a t-shirt and a backwards hat, far from his typical on-the-course attire—an Adams cap and his trendy Ogio clothing. His relaxed, boyish wardrobe (Richelle, his wife of seven years, playfully jokes that he still wears American Eagle sweatpants with a number on them, which he does) isn’t rare for the handsome 31-year-old American-Australian professional golfer...

A glimpse into the mind of the 2012 U.S. Open champion, Webb Simpson... Webb Simpson had fallen into a trap, a spiritual and psychological snare. As he stood on the putting green before the final round of the 2011 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC—with a two-stroke lead, still winless on the PGA Tour with an opportunity to earn his first victory close to his hometown of Raleigh—he still had one foot stuck in the snare...

It happened to Luke Zeller three times—the recurrence of a dream. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” a television reporter asked Luke when he was 14 years old. “I want to start a basketball camp,” he said...

Bubba Watson’s phone rang. His dad was calling. “If this is truth, if God is truth—you better start practicing,” Gerry said once Bubba picked up the phone. “Why do I need to practice?” said a confounded Bubba, who was having his best PGA Tour season yet. “You better practice because by the time you get to heaven, I’m going to be so good at golf...”

Fearing the future can be like a small flame that ignites into a fire. But that’s a barbecue Butler University senior co-captain Ronald Nored would rather forgo. And it’s an inferno he’d rather extinguish with the lessons of his past...

"He’s blue! He’s blue!” George Briscoe cried, as they wheeled his son, Travis, into the operating room. “In the name of Jesus! In the name of Jesus! In the name of Jesus!” screamed Travis’ mother, Debbie, who was signing documents at the nurse’s desk. Perhaps that’s all you can say when your 16-year-old son is on his deathbed—when a typical Thanksgiving weekend in 2003 is transformed into a traumatizing nightmare—when your son is mistakenly rushed to the operating room without his oxygen tank, his life source. The doctors and nurses quickly retrieved the oxygen tank, which, at the very least, prolonged what little life he had left. “I need to talk to you,” said the anesthesiologist before the surgery...

There was a time when Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell used to sink in adversity. Literally. Caldwell was five years old when he, his six-year-old sister and his four-year-old brother convinced their mother to take them to the “Big Pool,” a neighborhood pool in Rockford, Ill., with a deep end, shallow end, high dive, low dive and even a slide (probably a little better than their inflatable pool in the back yard). “We told her we’d stay in the shallow end, so we did,” Caldwell remembers. “But I was a pretty adventurous kid..."

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