Last Saturday St Louis hosted its second Red Bull King of the Rock Qualifier. Players from around the city come out to ball and to brave the 90-degree heat. The tournament was held at Fairground Park, the north city’s headquarters for street ball. 64- players competed but after an emotional final match neighborhood hero Garrett “Slim” Rice come out on top.
This year’s talent and level of competition surpassed expectations. Crowd favorite and 2012 runner up Damien White was back for revenge but was out shot in the 3rd round by a 17-year-old stand out. High school player Sam Taylor shocked the crowd when he beat White and dunked his way into the quarterfinals. Taylor couldn’t make it past the muscle and experience of TJ Mann in in the quarters but said he’d be back next year to take the crown. The final match came down to the two strongest competitors Damon Williams and Rice. Williams and Rice have played each other at Fairground for years, but Rice had the upper hand having competed at King of the Rock twice in 2012. A visibly tired Rice kept a narrow lead throughout the game and won10-13. Rice said, “You got to have heart and hustle...I’m here every day, if I don’t win here I should be ashamed of myself.”
Bringing King of the Rock back to north city was exactly what this rough, crime-ridden community needed. After a week of negative press and multiple violent crimes it was King of the Rock that brought the neighborhood out for something positive and fun. The local pastor, Pastor Hollis and the Boy and Girl Club Coordinator Marvin Crumer attend the event and praised it as a community builder.
Winner Rice is looking forward to representing his city at Alcatraz and enjoying his elevated street cred in St Louis; “when they think of Fairgrounds, they’re going to think of Slim!”