Basketball moves Gordon east

By James Choy

While walking down the hallway of Kellogg Gym, a woman waves and
greets the smiling face of Larry Gordon.

Gordon waves back and contently trots away, expressing glee with
life ” a life foretelling limitless success, but also a life that
has been filled with anguish and hardships.

The 6-foot-5-inch senior forward had a historic 2008-09 season,
leading the Broncos with an average of 15.3 points and 10.4
rebounds a game. Gordon was also the only player in Cal Poly
history to make at least 1,400 points, 900 rebounds, 500 field
goals, 350 free throws, 125 steals and 45 block shots in his
career.

He was awarded the California Collegiate Athletic Association’s
Most Valuable Player award and was also named to the National
Association of Basketball Coaches All-American team.

Despite taking his team all the way to the Division II National
Championship game, Gordon and the Broncos failed to beat an
undefeated University of Findlay.

The Broncos suffered a heartbreaking 56-53 loss in overtime when
a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Findlay’s Tyler Evans ended Cal
Poly’s chances at a first-ever national championship.

With the Broncos’ end to an unexpected season of positives,
Gordon’s journey in basketball will continue as he looks to travel
overseas after he graduates this spring.

Teams from Belgium, Denmark and Germany have expressed interest
in signing Gordon to play for them.

But for the 22-year-old Pomona native, his childhood was a story
that was nothing to smile about.

“Growing up was hard for me,” Gordon said. “We [our family]
weren’t always a structured group ” I was never in a stable home
throughout childhood.”

Gordon was the youngest of two sisters and two brothers. His
oldest sister Carlette lived with his uncle in Missouri at the
time. Latrice, Gordon’s other sister, spent most of her childhood
taking care of him while the two brothers, Shawn and Larry Jr., did
not meet Gordon until later in his teenage years.

At the age of 5, Gordon lived with Latrice and his mother Annie
in Pomona. Gang activity and drugs were rampant around the area,
making living conditions unsafe for the family.

Unfortunately, the problems of the city caught up with Annie,
and she became involved with gangs and drugs.

Her arrest led to Gordon’s uncle stepping in and taking custody
of the kids.

Gordon and Latrice spent four years in a foster home while Annie
fought back to regain custody of the kids while serving her time in
jail.

A year later, life began to settle when Gordon encountered
something unexpected.

His dad, Larry Sr., and oldest brother Larry Jr. came to see him
for the first time in his life.

“At first meeting, it was hard for me to adjust,” Gordon said.
“But after spending a week with my dad, I went to live with him in
Texas and our bond as father and son grew.”

Larry’s dad suggested Gordon take up sports. Gordon was fond of
football for most of his youth. In the sixth grade he picked up a
basketball and the evolution of Larry Gordon, basketball player,
had begun.

“My dad was the one who suggested I play basketball even though
I was playing football at the time,” Gordon said.

But on the day before he turned 14, Gordon had another
unexpected occurrence. His dad suddenly passed away in his
sleep.

News of the tragedy hit hard throughout the family. Gordon used
basketball as his solace from all the burdens that life was bearing
down on him.

“Basketball was my time away from all the drama,” he said. “It
hit me for a while because [my father and I] were just getting to
really know each other,” Gordon said.

Despite his love for football, Gordon’s skill in basketball
increased enough to catch the eye of his former basketball coach,
Bill Blades. Gordon’s ability to play earned him a spot on the
roster for the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year at
Montclair High School.

Gordon averaged 24.6 points and 13.2 rebounds while playing for
Blades.

During that year, Gordon reunited with a childhood friend, Jason
‘Bama’ Cohen and spent the rest of high school living with him.

“We’re like Batman and Robin,” Cohen said. “We did everything
together, chilled together, hooped together ” we did it all
together.”

Cohen was one of the many fans who watched Gordon excel during
his junior and senior years, as well as his games at Cal Poly.

“He’s always been better than everybody,” Cohen said. “It took
time for him to grasp it, to know that he was better than
everybody.”

After finishing his career playing basketball in high school,
Gordon spent the off-season trying to see if he would be able to
play at the Division I level. During high school, Gordon was
involved in playing with a basketball travel team and was
accompanied by familiar names like UCLA’s Darren Collison and
Arizona State’s Jeff Pendergraph.

With offers from Cal State University of Los Angeles, as well as
Cal State San Bernardino and Bakersfield, Gordon had many options
to choose from, but he felt the call from Cal Poly Pomona was his
best option.

Broncos head coach Greg Kamansky provided what Gordon wanted and
took note of his scoring ability, his efficiency and his hard
work.

“The thing that Larry did more than anyone else is he outworked
them,” Kamansky said. “Whether it was practice or on the court, he
outworked people.”Kamansky said Gordon is the perfect
representative of Cal Poly basketball.

“He’s a class act, a hard worker. He never took anything for
granted and is very unselfish, a person I would have to take care
of my kids if I had to,” Kamansky said.

Gordon recalls of the guidance and care that Kamansky provided
for him during his years at Cal Poly, calling him a second dad.

“He’s been there guiding me the whole way with academics, with
family, with everything,” Gordon said.

Since Gordon’s years at Cal Poly, life with his family improved.
Annie got her Bachelor’s degree in nursing from Cal State LA and
recently remarried two years ago to her high school sweetheart,
Kenneth King.

Gordon looks to make his way out of Cal Poly Pomona and into a
new career overseas.

“I just always smile,” he said. “Life may be a struggle, but the
good stuff I experience outweighs the bad.”

Basketball moves Gordon east

Suzanne Khazaal/Poly Post

Basketball moves Gordon east

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