TIME OUT: Ratliff making a difference

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2007

As I continue to learn more and more about Demopolis, one of the first sports connection I made upon arriving here from Detroit was Theo Ratliff.

I knew of him while in Detroit, because the Detroit Pistons, of the National Basketball Association, drafted him in 1995. We didn’t know anything about him when he got there from Wyoming. We or I certainly didn’t know he was from Demopolis.

One of the things we would stress in our communities in Detroit was giving back to the community.

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I’ve found that Ratliff has done just that here in Demopolis. And he has continued to make a difference here. He has not forgotten where he has come form and remains connected with his hometown. He is also called one of the favorite son’s of the &8216;Jewel of the Blackbelt.’

Ratliff, who has began his 12th season in the NBA, has made a permanent mark in the minds and hearts of the citizens of Demopolis with his initiation on building the Theo Ratliff Activity Center.

It was timely and was needed by the young and old. The center was opened in September of 1995 and is operated by the city’s recreation department.

Ratliff also has hosted a basketball camp here for the last four years. Last year’s camp had more than 300 attendees, which was the largest since the camp begun.

Ratliff is currently with the Boston Celtics and has a back injury. He is out for the remainder of the season.

Ratliff has been noted as one of the most impressive defensive players in the NBA. He also was on the 2001 NBA All-Star team while with the Philadelphia 76ers. He is one of the league’s dominating shot blocker.

The former Demopolis High star, who played for Luke Hallmark, the current Marengo County Superintendent of Schools, twice led the NBA in blocks per game and is fourth among active players in blocks. He trails Dikembe Mutombo, Shaquille O’neal, and Alonzo Mourning.

The 6-10 center and power forward played two years with the Pistons before going to the Philadelphia where he played for three seasons and remained until 2001. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks It was in Atlanta, while injured he came up with the idea of the activity center, being closer to home. He stayed with the Hawks until he was traded to the Portland Trailblazers in 2004. He was traded to Boston during the summer of last year.

Demopolis’ native son will always be home in the hearts of the people in Demopolis. Thank you for not forgetting. Thank you for making a difference.

James Gilmore is the sports editor of The Demopolis Times. He can be reached by e-mail at james.gilmore@demopolistimes.com.