Wednesday, March 21, 2001

Family comes first for Logan

Ill grandmother in his thoughts

        ANAHEIM, Calif. — He could never just come home from school, sit down on the couch and put his feet up. She saw to that. He had chores to do, and homework. Often, she'd cook him a little something, ask him about his day. Her grandson, Steve Logan, was not going to be one of the corner boys.

        “She was strong for me,” Logan said Tuesday. And so now, he will be strong for her.

        They moved 63-year-old Shirley Logan out of her house on Adams Avenue in Cleveland and into the nursing home two weeks ago. Diabetes was affecting the blood flow to one of her feet. Since, she'd stopped eating, because she didn't like the food.

        “That's almost like giving up,” Logan said. He crouched against a gym wall at the Uni versity of San Diego, where the Bearcats were practicing, fatigued from a 24-hour trip home to see his grandmother.

        Logan is usually the most outgoing of Bearcats, talkative, enthusiastic, bright. On Tuesday, he looked spent.

        “I want you to eat so you can get out of here,” he'd said to Shirley on Monday.

        “I don't like the food. I don't like being here,” she said.

        “If you eat, you'll get out.”

        The amateur sociologists among us poked and prodded Logan, seeking again that ur ban cliche of fractured family. What has your grandmother meant to you? Was she the only person you could depend on at home? Rough neighborhood, was it?

        “I didn't have trouble,” Logan said. “I've got a big family.”

        The truth is, Shirley Logan was just one of many strong links that kept Steve on the straight. Mother, sister, grandfathers, cousins, aunts, uncles. If you've ever been to the Rock-N-Roll

        Shootout in Cleveland — the Bearcats are frequent participants — you'd see the support Steve Logan enjoys. Sometimes, it really does take a village.

        Logan's extended family did a good job raising him. You can tell that easily enough. Just talk to him a few minutes. But a grandmother's love, well, that's different. Unconditional, untainted by judgment. Pure.

        “I probably wouldn't be in college” if not for Shirley. “She kept me on the right path, told me to be a good person,” Logan said.

        Now, he's telling her to live.

        “I'll be fine,” she said to him Monday. “Try not to worry about me.”

        He said, “It's hard not to worry.”

        The bad part is, when Shirley Logan goes, she'll take a little of Steve with her. The good part is, some of Shirley will remain with Steve.

        “Try to be the best per son you can be. That's what she always said. Carry yourself with a special mind frame. Be nice to people. I think it made her proud that her grandson grew up and became a fine, young man,” Logan said.

        UC plays Stanford in the Sweet 16 Thursday, a thought that's as close to Logan now as the moon. What he's thinking about on this Tuesday is his grandmother's face when he walked into her room Monday.

        “She gave me a big smile. I'll remember that smile the rest of my life, the way she looked at me when I came in,” he said.

        You shoot a jumpshot with your legs, your arm and your hand. Also, sometimes, with your heart.

        Steve Logan is UC's best shooter. On Thursday night, every sweet jumpshot will have Shirley's name on it.

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