Leonard Taylor was ready to quit.

He was 8 years old and he got hit really hard, and, besides, he was going to be a basketball player anyway. He was only trying out football because everyone — and, most importantly, his mother — kept telling him he should try it. Even at 8, he was so big and his mother saw a future where he was something like the 6-4 teenage mountain he is now. Fine, he thought. He’d try it, but he didn’t have to like it. He went to play for the South Kendall Gators.

It was his first time playing and in one of those first games, South Kendall headed up to Dania Beach to play the top team in the league. Taylor stopped paying attention for a few seconds — he was 8; it happens — and an opponent knocked him off his feet as a play finished. That was it. Taylor stormed to the sideline, ripped off his helmet, tore off his shoulder pads and plopped down on the bench. He had tried. Basketball it was.

“Leonard, what are you doing? You’ve got to get in there,” Gators coach Mike Williams pleaded with him. Taylor didn’t budge.

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