It was more than a year ago and Crenshaw High School basketball coach was pacing the sidelines as his team trailed rival View Park 48-47 in January 2019 at Angelou High with 31 seconds remained on the clock.
Waters then collapsed in front of his bench as a hush and eerie silence befell the gymnasium. Stunned players and coaches rushed to his aid, but ultimately it was certified athletic trainer, Ellen Kelly who is likely responsible for saving his life.
The man who replaced legendary Willie West after he retired and had captured a pair of City titles was suddenly in the greatest fight a human can endure. One for his life.
His mother Congresswoman Maxine Waters rendered powerless as her son’s health was in peril.
Coach was the last thing on anyone’s mind as Waters lay hospitalized following the incident not knowing what doctors would discover if anything that would allow for him to stay alive.
A month later a COVID-19 pandemic would rivet the nation and the world, cancelling life as we knew it, thus shuttering gymnasiums, closing schools and sidelining athletes, paralyzing our political system from which all determinations are made.
As fate would have it, the pandemic forced Waters to focus on just his health because there would be no basketball season and title chases.
Recently Waters returned to the Crenshaw High School basketball team bench, doping what he loves monitoring and mentoring young men at one of the most storied high schools in America.
There he was at Crenshaw last week as the Cougars hosted Washington Prep, crushing the outmanned Generals 78-26 to improve to 2-0.
“It’s been over a year and the pandemic actually helped me because it gave me time to rest and think about what I wanted to do and as time got towards the basketball season, I had to figure out what I wanted to do,” Waters told Inglewood Today. “I started thinking of the kids, especially our seniors. I have a great point guard (Kevin Bradley) who really hasn’t gotten the exposure he deserves. A lot of what I am doing is for him. He came out in his first game and scored 38 points and he’s one of the best guards in California. So, I’m really doing it for him.”
Many private schools have attempted to pry Bradley away from Crenshaw, but he remained loyal to the school where his father Kevin Sr. starred under West.
COVID has prevented the seniors from playing a full season, but Waters is anxious to make the most of it. The players from both teams wore face mask for the duration of the game.
“That’s (wearing mask) has been really strange. We have parents who are concerned about it and we are concern about it, but we got them some specialized mask that part has been very difficult, but what’s more important is we came out here for the mental health of the kids. I have kids that quit playing basketball because of the pandemic. We as a coaching staff decided that even if we don’t have a season, we are going to practice with them and be with our players.”
He said the greatest victory is seeing the kids happy.
“That’s what it’s all about and we feel it’s making more of an impact on their lives.”
The Cougars are off to a roaring start and the opportunity to contend for yet another championship.
Bradley Sr. was a member of the last Crenshaw championship under West in 1997 and now his son is part of that history as well.