There will be 64 ballers from around the world competing for the Red Bull King of the Rock title Saturday on Alcatraz. Journeying from as far as Taiwan, Slovakia and Egypt, they all have great stories. But it's hard not to root for Kendrick Cornelius of Houston.
Cornelius grew up on the hardscrabble courts of Flint, Michigan, where he played on the courts of King Park for $20 a game and won so much that he eventually spotted opponents points. Survival was another story.
According to MLive, Cornelius was allegedly held up at gunpoint in 2010 and suffered five gunshot wounds. The attack left him mostly blind in his left eye. "It took a few months for me to adjust to vision loss," he said. "If two people were standing in front of me and I covered up my left eye I wouldn't be able to tell who is who."
But that hasn't stopped Cornelius from sinking shots.
After the attack, he moved to Houston and started a management company. He also runs his own clothing line and works as a trainer, in addition to some charitable activities.
At the Red Bull King of the Rock qualifiers in Houston, Cornelius came back from being down seven to win by 11. It was an extraordinary feat by 1-on-1 standards. Coming from Flint, however, Cornelius doesn't see it that way.
"It got so intense down at King Park [in Flint] when we would play 1-on-1 for money, so when they announced this event at Alcatraz, I was like, 'I've been doing this since I was young,'" Cornelius said. "So now I get a chance to play for money, but it's legit money."
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