Those who know him well will tell you that sports never really matter Okoto Chatman. Instead, they were describing the Texan man as a hard-core news addict. Before liver cancer took his life on November 16, 2017, Okoto loved more than just relaxing at his Dallas-area home and watching 24-hour television news networks.
If anything brings Okoto so much joy, it may have been the close relationship he enjoyed with his nephew, a boy who dreamed of becoming a pilot or a brain surgeon, loved green, and I did He enjoys sports, but also sincerely respected his uncle Uhkoto. In the end, though, another man vied for the baby’s admiration.
“From the beginning,” Galen Mills He admits, “My first love was basketball. My mom loved basketball and would take me to the Dallas Mavericks games— Dirk NowitzkiAnd Jason TerryAnd Jerry Stackhouse-All these guys. “Even though those players in the town were like that, no one could hold a candle in Galen’s eyes Allen Iverson From Philadelphia 76ers.
The 6-foot-tall goalkeeper – known for his braided hairstyles and for his two nicknames, AI and Answer – impressed and inspired a brooding Galen with his killer instinct on the field and his bravery when facing players much bigger and taller than him. When Galen played youth basketball, he tried to emulate Iverson, right down to his trademark uniform style.
“I tried to lengthen my hair. I had a little chin and tried to get braids, but my mom wouldn’t let me,” Galen recalls. “I was wearing a headband, a finger wrapped where he had his number, and a sleeve on my arm. I had all his shoes, a Reebok Q&A. I had his 76er shirt back when it was red, black, and a little gold.”
By the time Galen reached high school, he had fallen in love with basketball because, as he admits with a chuckle, “Guys got really tall and fast!” He has turned to football, starting as a quarterback and a broad future. During a workout with fellow wide receivers entering his sophomore year at Lancaster High, south of Dallas, the defensive back coach approaches Galen. The guy remembers saying, “Hey, I know you think you’re a receiver, but you’re really a DB player. Why don’t you come to train with me? I think you have a chance to get a scholarship by playing Cornerback or in high school.”
Now a high school coach at the University of Missouri, Aaron Fletcher He made an offer and a prediction that would have positive repercussions on Galen’s life to this day.
“I loved competing, doing plays, and enjoying the players who play football. It’s a children’s sport for me,” Galen adds. “If I could go to college and have a full trip, it would be a dream. My mom didn’t have the money to send me to any college. I had this opportunity to use what God blessed me with, so why not.”
Galen agreed to switch to the defense, and this brought an almost immediate profit. By his freshman year, the college’s major programs were showing keen interest. However, in the classroom, Galen’s average grade could not keep up. Coach Fletcher knew Galen needed to move again – to a better school and a better environment that would help his player focus on his academy. In his senior year, Galen moved to nearby DeSoto High, and Fletcher went with him. Together, they helped guide their new school to the 10-2 record.
As Fletcher predicted, Galen eventually earned the grades needed to earn a soccer scholarship to Louisiana State University. As a true rookie in 2012, Jalen started all 13 games for the Tigers and finished with the Freshman First-Team All-America Honor. Only during a major season shortened to injury did he miss any games at LSU. However, Galen did enough to be selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
“My coach has changed my life,” Galen comments on Fletcher’s continued influence. “The first two years of my high school, I was a bit of a problem kid, just trying to be with the cool kids. It’s about helping young people. It’s a blessing. I still talk to him. He’s still my teacher.”