Young all-star’s hoop dreams began on the L.E.S.


By Eddie Rivera

This story is about a young kid from the Lower East Side that I have been fortunate enough to watch grow up and transform into a wonderful young man. I hope this story will inspire and motivate many kids in this diverse community. 

His name is Doron Lamb and he is currently attending Oak Hill Academy in Virginia. I have never seen a kid with so much natural, raw talent. The community watched as he played basketball as a kid; even then, it was something special. He received offers from schools with some of the country’s top basketball programs: Kansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Arizona and Connecticut.

Doron — a 6-foot-4-inch shooting guard — was invited to participate in the 2010 McDonald’s All-American Game — meaning he’s considered among the country’s top high school players. I recently traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to watch him compete in the game and the pre-game competitions.

Upon arriving in Columbus, at the Schottenstein Value City Arena, the first thing I noticed was the high level of energy in the arena. Jam Fest was on the way. It consisted of three events: Slam Dunk, Skill and Three-Point Shootout.

The Boys Skill competition showcased some incredible talents: Doron, Kyrie Irving, Cory Joseph and Keith Appling. When it was Doron’s turn, he ran through the obstacle course like a kid in an amusement park, having so much fun, yet with his competitive edge always there. This one went to Irving, though.

In the Boys Three-Point Shootout, the level of sharpshooting was, again, amazing. I recalled telling a Basketnews.net staff writer sitting to my right, “Doron is a better shooter than they give him credit for.” However, Joseph won the event to finish off the spectacular Jam Fest.

Media day at the Ronald McDonald House of Columbus took full effect on all 48 participants. They are now ambassadors to R.M.H. and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. They’ve experienced firsthand how they’ll help give back by playing in the games. Prior to taking a tour of the house, I met Paul Thomson, the facility’s director. He explained that this Ronald McDonald House was built in 2008, and is the second-largest R.M.H. in the U.S., with 80 guestrooms. 

It was a great feeling to watch these players represent themselves, and also to see how humble they are. This is just the start of how they may one day be able to give back. They will each take this experience with them for the rest of their lives. 

When I asked him about his experience at R.M.H., Doron told me he felt “very fortunate and honored with this opportunity.”

I asked him what kind of impact his parents had on him, both on and off the court.

“It all starts off the court,” he said. “They support me in everything I do. I was raised by parents who work hard for everything they have. My family values say who I am and where I came from. My parents spent many days traveling to tournaments, camps and just giving me the opportunity to grow and be the person I am today.” 

Asked about his first thoughts upon being selected a McDonald’s All-American, Doron said, “I thought I was having a dream.”

Finally, the moment of the big game — the 33rd annual — had arrived.

The announcer’s voice called out: “Now starting, representing the West Team, from Oak Hill Academy, Number 20 — Doron Lamb!” I felt chills of anticipation. I watched him stroll out onto the court and thought to myself, “What is ‘D Smooth’ feeling right now?”

The game started. Up-and-down play, and after two passes Doron scored on a tap-in. From my perspective, though, it didn’t matter if he scored 2 points or 40 points: Doron is the real deal as a ballplayer.

These athletes put on a show: dunks, behind-the-back passes. It turned out to be a high-scoring game: final score, 107-104. The West won and Doron scored 12 points in just 14 minutes. He played very well. After the game, we headed over to the Renaissance Hotel where the players and their families were staying.

Everyone prepared for the closing ceremony and photos with the players. Doron’s support system extends to friends, like myself, and our kids. Several of his friends from New York came to support him, and brought their young children along. The smiles on the faces of Doron, especially, and the kids confirmed what this is all about.

Doron and his parents now live in Laurelton, Queens. But he his heart and soul will always be on the Lower East Side, where his dream began. 

I got to share a cab with USA Today’s Jim Halley, who was also reporting on the McDonald’s game. When he asked me who was I covering, I told him Doron Lamb. He replied, “Doron Lamb is the best defender here. He hasn’t even reached his full potential yet.”

Doron will have a chance to reach it at the University of Kentucky. He announced at the Jordan Brand Classic on April 17 on ESPN2 that Kentucky was his choice of school.