February 21, 2017, published on Bleacher Report

Mo’ne Davis calls for the ball. She drains a three, holding her follow-through for a second longer as she and a teammate battle two others for most threes made during a drill. “BOOM!” the boys on the sideline shout. Davis, wearing white and chrome Nike Kobe A.D.s, scurries around the perimeter, releasing shot after shot. “They cheatin’!” Davis hollers, waving her arms and hip-checking one of her opponents. She pops three more in a row. “Oh yeaaaaahhhh,” she says, bouncing up and down, sensing victory.

Davis has been knocking down shots at Philadelphia’s Marian Anderson Recreation Center with these same boys—her teammates on the Anderson Monarchs, a youth recreational team—for the past eight years. The center’s gym, with its four rows of brown bleachers, its cream-colored wall tile and its green and white scoreboard, has long been home to the 15-year-old—since before she became an American sensation in 2014 as the first girl to pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series; before she starred in Spike Lee’s Chevrolet commercial; before she couldn’t walk anywhere without fans approaching her for pictures.

Before all of that, she was first hooked on hoops, addicted to the squeaks and creaks of the hardwood. When she wasn’t out-dunking her cousin, James McLean, in NBA 2K jam contests (Tracy McGrady was her go-to player), Davis was getting buckets at the gym. Once, when she was nine, Davis scooped in a layup as a boy undercut her during a game. She flipped, crashing to the floor, the beads in her braids pounding the wood. Davis burst into tears but bounced up, wiped her face and sank two free throws. “She doesn’t back down,” says Steve Bandura, the Monarchs coach. “There’s no fear.” (READ FULL STORY HERE).