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SoCalHoops HS-College-NBA News

Grant HS Retires Jersey Of Alum
Gilbert Arenas--(Nov. 20, 2001)

As a Grant High School alum (Class of '72--yes, age has a way of creeping up on us all), and one of the first to be tipped off by Grant HS coach Howie Levine (also Grant, Class of '72) about a very young but extremely gifted sophomore named Gilbert Arenas (Grant, Class of 2000), we were very happy for him (and for his dad, Gil Sr.) to see in today's Daily News a really nice article by Vincent Bonsignore about the retirement of Gilbert's jersey by the school, and a celebration of the first player from the school to make it to the NBA.

You can read the article at this link, or for the sake of posterity below (we hope that Vinny and his bosses don't mind that we've reprinted all means, if you are within the distance of a newstand with a Daily News in it, buy the paper.   Better yet, subscribe.  Because if the other dailies in the region do what the Times has done, we'll all be up a creek without a paddle in a few weeks when the season is really in full swing.....ah, but that's another story). 

In the meantime, congratulations to Gilbert.

Grant thanks its favorite son

By Vincent Bonsignore
LA Daily News Staff Writer

The hand slaps were crisp and meaningful, the hugs and embraces heartfelt. But it was the smile that everyone noticed when Gilbert Arenas strolled into Grant High's basketball gym Monday night.

Two years away from home and a couple million dollars in the bank can't change that smile or its effect on people.

Arenas lives in Oakland and plays for the Golden State Warriors now, but Van Nuys and Grant High is and always will be home. That's why a thousand or so of his best friends came out to honor him at Grant's alumni basketball game.

They rolled out the red carpet for their most famous alum, retired his number 25 uniform jersey and said thanks for the memories, including the ones certain to come in the future.

And Arenas, who flew to L.A. from Oakland earlier in the day, just kept smiling.

"It means a lot to come back and see all these familiar faces," said Arenas, currently on the Warriors' injured reserve list. "I think all NBA players should take the time out to come back like this. This is where it all started."

It's sometimes hard to quantify how much someone can mean to a school and a program, but in Arenas' case, it's not difficult at all. He means everything to Grant.

This is a neighborhood kid who came up though the playgrounds and rec leagues, played for the hometown school and emerged out of obscurity to rise above more heralded players to land a scholarship to Arizona, then a spot in the NBA with the Warriors.

It was a dream come true, for Arenas and the Grant family.

"He shows what can happen when you dream and work hard and do the right things," Grant coach Howie Levine said. "Not just in a basketball sense but an everything sense. The same thing applies to a business man and a doctor. If you dream and work hard, good things can happen."

It wasn't so long ago that Arenas walked into the same gym as a 14-yearold sophomore and blew Levine away in his very first workout.

"I told him he could one day play in the NBA and I've never told anyone that before," Levine remembers.

It wasn't long before his teammates started seeing the same thing.

"It just blew me away how good he was," said Rashad Winston, who played with Arenas from 1997-99. "You just knew how much talent he had. It was amazing."

On a night for remembering, Arenas couldn't even pinpoint his favotite Grant memories.

"There were so many of them," he said, laughing. "I scored a lot of points in this house."

He sure did, 2,124 to be exact, most in school history. The Grant record book is dominated by Arenas, who owns 15 school records and is near the top in a handful of others.

But the one that stands out, even more than the points and the career scoring average, is the assists. Everybody remembers the 46 points he scored against Bell-Jeff in 1998, but they forget he set a record with 13 assists in that game too.

"He was always the first guy to tell you to take your shot," Winston said. "He wasn't a selfish player at all. He'd get mad if you weren't doing your thing."

Not that Arenas' teammates and coaches didn't enjoy watching him do his thing. He scored 50 points against Camarillo and 47 against Canoga Park. As a junior, he dropped 42 on Crenshaw in a playoff game. Crenshaw was one of the top teams in the state and nobody outside of the Valley was aware of Arenas.

"They were like, 'Who's this guy?' " Winston remembered. "Well they knew after that game who he was. That was a statement game. From that point on, everyone knew who Gilbert was."

They still do.

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