On the road to wherever

Updated: August 31, 2005, 3:53 PM ET
By Tom Farrey | ESPN The Magazine

Near the end, just four kids remain. In a game of five-on-five basketball at the AAU national championships in Memphis, Tenn., there are just four players on one side, marinating in the full-throated pleas of grown-ups who fill a middle school gym with so much desperation the boys struggle to think -- and breathe.

"Can I have a sub?" Ethan, a blond 7-year-old, asks during a timeout. One minute is left on the clock. He's been on the court most of the second half and shines with sweat.

"Nobody ...

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