Navonda Moore

Sitting in McAllister's Deli, with her hair pulled back and up, ponytail style, her elbows on the table and chin resting comfortably on her hands, Navonda Moore looks like an average teenager. She is not. After moving to Mississippi from Kankkakee, Ill., at age 8, Moore later played basketball for Hardy Junior High and Murrah High School. "I always wanted to be around basketball," she says, "but I didn't play organized ball until I was in the 7th grade. I realized I had natural ability, and I wanted to use it." She has. At Murrah she was named All State, three-time Dandy Dozen senior forward, state tournament MVP, and as a senior, she will play in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game March 22 in Alabama.

Less than one week after winning her third state championship in four seasons, Moore, 18, is planning ahead. A University of Alabama signee, Moore has several career goals. "I'd like to major in physical therapy, but if that doesn't work out, I'd like to coach or start a center for kids," she says. As for pro ball, "I think about it all the time, but I am not going to depend on it."

Moore spends time away from the court bowling and talking on the phone with friends. "I have never been one to just hang out at the malls," she says. She realizes others played a role in her success and says a special thank you should go to Anna Jackson, her coach at Murrah, and Stacy Prophet, her Amateur Athletic Union basketball coach who, as Moore says, "had confidence in me when I was just a little player, too scared to shoot."

Sitting across from me wearing a blue University of North Carolina jersey, she talks of family and support and success, as her mother Royal Moore looks on (she wasn't going to let her baby meet a stranger alone). As the daughter talks, the strong family thread that has wound through her life becomes more apparent. Her mother played ball two years for Kankkakee Community College. Moore looks up at her mother with affection and approval, saying, "Yeah, she was a little hooper." At the mention of her stepfather, Barrie Brown, she says: "Now that's my dad. He never missed a game." He, along with her sister, Shawanda, and her mother are her support system. "They thought I could do it, even when I didn't think I could," she says.

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