Cincinnati’s Own Musketeer

Semaj Christon

Photo Taken By Tony Tribble

By James Nosek

The entrance was rather clandestine, like he was a scout ready to watch a prospective player. A straight face and methodical march to his seat was in order, perfectly routine for him. The 6’3” slim frame of Semaj Christon, wearing a white-grayish shirt, navy blue shorts, hat, and running shoes, took the role of many of the other spectators who came to Woodward High School on this Saturday in late June to enjoy another installment of the Deveroes-City Gear Summer League. He grabbed a seat in the stands, next to his girlfriend, Myriah, placing his gym bag beside them. Who was this guy? And why did he blend in so well?

A little later Christon made his way down the stairs slowly, as adults, teenagers and little kids said hello and gave him a handshake, the arcane of his being at the gym was no more. When he made his way towards the bottom of the bleachers, many other people wanted a piece of Christon. Did they know him? Were they family? Friends? Or did they just want to greet Xavier University’s leading scorer and first ever A-10 Conference Rookie of the Year from last season?

The summer has been soothing for Christon, a time to enjoy the company of family and friends and get away from the hectic lifestyle of being one of the emerging stars and leaders on XU’s basketball team. Relaxing and spending time with friends becomes the companion to his basketball game, as he finds ways to prepare for the intense season of travel and sweat that is not far away. He loves being able to enjoy the offseason. But he knows the summer is a time for improvement: Working out, competing in open gyms, playing for Deer Park Roofing in the summer league. He was even invited to LeBron James’ Skills Camp in early July. Christon knows when he goes back to school; he’ll be off his vacation and back to work.

After escaping the crowd, Christon finds a spot behind the bleachers and leans against the wall: Arms crossed, that blank stare on his face, watching the game before his Deer Park team hits the floor to play the SLATS team in his fourth game competing in the summer league. Of course, a few more people come up to say hello. Christon engages in conversation, despite his apparent disproval of all the chatter. He’s not very talkative. At least until his buddies show up. Now, back in the stands, he is having a good time with them as he puts on his XU-colored low-top shoes. He then leaves his bag with his girlfriend and heads back down the same route as earlier—this time, there are no interruptions—and retreats into the locker room to get his jersey.

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Blessed and Determined

Carl Richburg

By James Nosek

He is in his home. The home he moved into in 1996. The home that is aging with necessity, if not destiny. The memories surround him, ready to be remembered or forgotten, tossed away or cherished forever. He knows things have changed. He’s accepting them. He’s come along way from the young boy from Baltimore who wound up in new places, with new people and new opportunities—from playing basketball at the University of Southern Indiana and Miami University in Ohio to now being a coach for the Central Methodist University basketball program. This house in Mason, Ohio will always be home, no matter where he ends up.

Carl Richburg sits shirtless at the elevated kitchen table on this sunny afternoon in early July. He takes small sips from the jelly-jar turned water jug as he talks about the NBA. A SportsCenter highlight about the Miami Heat flashes on the screen in the family room across from the kitchen. “I’m a Heat fan,” Richburg, 27, says. “That’s my team… well actually, I’m a LeBron James fan. I remember seeing him at an AAU tournament in Las Vegas. He was very skinny and super awkward looking. Now he is huge. I remember his team had these simple little reversible jerseys. They were playing all these studs—guys like Raymond Felton—who had these nice jerseys, and here’s LeBron running circles around them.”

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