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The Rise of Reggie: How Reggie Evans made it out of Pensacola and on to Brooklyn stage

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Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Reggie Evans is the player everyone loves to hate until he joins their team. Then, a love affair blooms. It was not always that easy for Evans. He's in New York now, with the accolades as loud as the "Reg-gie Evans" chants that occasionally mix with "Brook-lyn." A little more than a decade ago, though, he was in Pensacola, admittedly dealing crack cocaine in the city's worst public housing project.

Evans talks with Howard Beck and Dave D'Alessandro about the journey, with stops in Coffeysville, Kansas, Iowa State and the Seattle Sonics. Although Evans tells Beck, "I'm Pensacola for life," he admits that if he didn't get out of the Florida Panhandle, he might be a prison cell like so many he knew, including family.

It's one of those stories of how basketball saved a young man's life and how hard work and a well-honed specialty can make you a hero ... at least to your team's fans. Another value Evans brings to the Nets is how he's helped save Andray Blatche's career. The two, who are represented by the same agent, Andy Miller, are inseparable.

"I’ll tell you something, it worked out good for me here. I’m playing with (Brook) Lopez. I get to play with guys like Blatche, and help him out. I’m cool with Avery — he relates to me real good.”