Originally published on Nov. 22, 2002
After what must have been one of the worst weeks of his young life, Chris Paul of West Forsyth High School dedicated the Titans' season opener at Parkland Wednesday night to the memory of his slain grandfather, his basketball coach said.
"It was the kind of night that would be really hard to forget," Coach David Laton said.
Paul — whose grandfather Nathaniel Jones was found killed late last week — scored 61 points, one for each year his grandfather lived, and intentionally missed a free throw with several minutes remaining to keep his total at 61.
"He told me before the game that he wanted to play the whole game for his grandfather," Laton said. "I asked him if there was a reason for it. He said yes, but we didn't discuss the details.”
Bob Poole of Clayton set the state-scoring record with 67 points in a game in 1950. Paul might have had time to go after the record, but it wasn't important, Laton said.
Paul said that several family members suggested that scoring 61 points would be a fitting tribute.
"Before the game I was sitting there thinking to myself, 'There's no way I can do this,'" Paul said. "I was breathing real hard, and just thinking. But as the game progressed, I started telling myself that for my granddad, I was going to do this.
"I felt like nobody could stop me. One of my friends said a couple of shots didn't look like they were going in, but I guess my granddad was there to tip them in.
"My whole family was there, and that inspired me very much. They are always behind me 100 percent in everything I do, and to have them there the day after we buried my grandfather was special. He was like my best friend."
"Honoring his grandfather was what was important to him," Laton said. "It was important to our team. It was an emotional night all around, and he got plenty of applause from the Parkland people."