By TRACEE LORAN
If life were played in two halves like the game of basketball, Marquis Barnett’s first half was short in minutes and long in suffering. The 19-year old Queens, NY native has endured more heartache and pain than most people three times his age. Homelessness: Along with his Mom and two siblings, Marquis has lived in four shelters in four different boroughs throughout New York City. Tragedy: Marquis’ brother Tavon, who was autistic, died in a fire that the young boy accidentally started when left unsupervised. Violence: Nearly four years ago, Marquis had to rescue his Mom from the claws of an abusive boyfriend who was choking the breath and life out of her.
Fortunately, Marquis’ story does have a second half – one filled with hope, love, and redemption. And in his second half, he is surrounded by amazing people who have shown what compassion truly means such as his long-time girlfriend, Shalyce Blue; his UWANTGAME mentor, Rodrick Seay; and his Cardozo High School basketball coach, Ron Naclerio, who championed for Marquis to play ball on the collegiate level. Now a freshman at Quinnipiac University – light years away from previous strife – the 6 foot 8 forward is crashing boards for the Division-I squad on a full ride.
Writer Tracee Loran caught up with Barnett at a recent QU game against St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. What she discovered was not a young man who was scarred and angered by his harrowing past. (One might expect that and could possibly understand.) Instead, who stood before her was a mature young man with a commanding presence and a gentle spirit. His words were brief, but profound and showed that Marquis refrains from looking back and dwelling on negative circumstances. He’d much rather spend his time looking toward a more promising future. more