But then Tucker got the phone call that changed his life. He was selected to play for the East squad in the 25th annual Paul Robeson All-Star Classic that was held last Thursday at Robeson Stadium in East Orange.
“I was in shock when I found out,” said Tucker, who managed to catch two passes in the game. “I couldn’t believe it. Coming from a school that didn’t win much, I didn’t think I’d get a chance. I was excited to get the chance. I feel like I’ve earned it for all the hard work I put in.”
Tucker was just one of nine Hudson County kids to earn a spot on the East team. It marked the first time in over a decade that local kids were included in the All-Star Classic.
Tucker was more than ready to answer the call to play football again.
“I felt like I never lost it,” Tucker said. “I’m getting the chance to play with some really great players. There are some nice people here, people I’m glad I’m getting the chance to know better.”
Lincoln High School was well represented with Juwan Laseur and Yasaan Jackson on the East squad. Laseur, headed to Chowan University in North Carolina to play football, had to miss the game with a leg injury. Jackson is headed to Kirkland Academy in Lincroft to play with the hope of graduating to a four-year school next year.
“This is an opportunity for me to get looked at by some schools,” Jackson said. “It’s an opportunity for my family and friends to see my last high school football game.”
“It was a wonderful feeling to get selected to play in the game,” Laseur said. “I’m here with the best players around. It would have been fun to go out there and compete. I didn’t think I had a chance to play in this game at all, so this was a shock for me. But once I found out, I said, ‘OK, when do we start practice?’ I kept calling Coach [Robert] Hampton [from Lincoln, who was the East squad head coach]. I was a little shaky at first out there, but then I was back to business.”
Hudson Catholic was also well represented with two East All-Stars, namely Ty’ell Higgins and Nasir Adams.
“It means a lot for me to be here,” said Higgins, who left the now-defunct Queen of Peace to transfer to Hudson Catholic last year. “This is the last time I played in New Jersey. I wanted to show New Jersey what I could do on the field.”
Higgins is headed to American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts later this summer and will play defensive back there.
“I debated whether or not I should continue to play football,” Higgins said after QP closed. “But it was great to get one last chance.”
Adams is headed to St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire to play defensive end.
Adams said that he once told his father, Angelo, that he would play in the game, but Angelo passed away in March.
“I’m honoring him by being here,” Adams said.
Others to play in the game included Terrell Reid and Marcus Manning of Bayonne and Dustin Huseinovic of Harrison.
As promised by Hampton, Hudson County will now forever be involved in the Robeson Classic moving forward…
Prayers are asked for former great St. Joseph of West New York and Villanova athlete Gerry Bellotti, the former St. Peter’s Prep football coach and Hudson County Sports Hall of Famer.
Bellotti underwent quadruple heart bypass as well as valve replacement surgery last week at St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston.
Bellotti is recovering nicely after the surgery, but will need extensive time for recovery, so keep him in your thoughts and prayers…
And a sad ending to a young life, as it was learned that former Emerson High School baseball standout Jeison Camilo has passed away. Camilo, who was a two-time Hudson Reporter All-Area honoree during his playing days at Emerson that ended in 2007, before Camilo went on to play at Gloucester County College, died last month at the age of 29.
Details of his demise are not known, but a 2016 article in NJ.com said Camilo ran afoul of the law in a drug arrest.
It’s a sad end to what was once a promising baseball career. Here’s the link to Camilo’s Athlete of the Week story: http://www.hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/2408604/article.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.