Way back when Shaquille O’Neal went to watch one of Lebron James’ high school basketball games at St. Vincent-St. Mary, O’Neal said he’d only done that once before.
The other high schooler he wanted to see: Dajuan Wagner.
Wagner still is considered by many the greatest high school basketball player in New Jersey history. He went to college for a year, then was drafted sixth overall by the Cavs in 2002. The next year, they took James first overall.
But Wagner’s career was beset by injury and bad luck — and shortly after the Cavs did not re-sign him in 2005 he had surgery to have his colon removed, a fallout from ulcerative colitis.
Philly.com caught up with Wagner recently, and wrote an outstanding article on where he is now and where he hopes to be, a story that is well worth reading. Included in the article by Jason Nark of the Philadelphia Daily News:
Wagner might have been the closest thing Camden has ever seen to personifying Walt Whitman’s dream of a ‘city invincible,’ something almost perfect in a city plagued by so many problems. Now he’s an underdog, just like his hometown, and I find myself rooting for him. Not to be a savior, but just to be a basketball player again. Even that is a long shot, for sure, but he’s made plenty of them in the past.