BY MICHAEL CHAPMAN
James Anthony Collins was your typical kid from inner-city Atlanta. He was an only child to Natasha Collins, who worked as a full-time server at a small restaurant down the street.
Born June 12, 1991, Collins was a handsome young man by the time he made it to middle school. His mother recalls the first time he brought a girl to the house.
“He was in seventh grade, and I walked in the door to see a girl clearly older than him sitting on the sofa watching television,” she said. “I asked him how old she was after she left, and he got his big smile on and said ‘I don’t know, but she is in high school.’ To be honest I couldn’t help but laugh.”
Soon after that, Jimmie decided to try out for the school basketball team.
“The coach said I was one of the best shooters he’d ever seen in middle school, so I thought I was the big man around the school,” said Collins.
He developed into one of the best middle schoolers in Atlanta even as a seventh grader. Soon, private schools were recruiting him.
“I had coaches surrounding me after every game,” said his mother. “You would have thought he was the number one high school prospect or something.”
He decided to stay at Young Middle School. Collins knew everybody and everybody, especially the girls, knew him.
“He loved those girls,” chuckled his mother. “And they sure loved him. I think he had a rotation of five girls that would come over, one per day. He was a behaved kid so I saw no problem with him watching TV or playing games with the girls.”
Unfortunately, his basketball skill and charming looks both came to an abrupt end. Walking to school during his first semester of eighth grade year, he was struck by a car that jumped the curb. The accident broke both his legs and caused severe abrasions. The doctors told him he would no longer be able to play basketball, and he was crushed.
“That was easily the most depressing moment of my life. If I didn’t have basketball, I didn’t have half of my life,” said Collins.
Not only was his promising basketball career over, the scarring on his face made him the butt of a lot of jokes in high school. Few of his female friends would talk to him.
Collins soon fell into the wrong crowd and was arrested multiple times. Once he turned 17, his mother moved with him to Fort Pierce. He has lived there since and received his associate degree from Indian River State College. He currently is working at the Wal-Mart in Stuart and will be marrying his fiancee next year.
He can only wonder now: What could have been? But Collins says he is happy and has no regrets on anything in life.