Off the Court:
KAREEM RUSH

(Photo by Jessica Hoffman)

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With a name like Kareem, youd think the Pacers shooting guard may have felt some pressure to perform like the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

But for Kareem Rush, living up to that name was nothing compared to the pressure he felt much closer to home.

As a youth, Rush got a taste of some pretty stiff competition in one-on-one games with his older brother JaRon, just 18 months his senior. As it turned out, that competitive rivalry must have benefited both.

In Kansas City, the brothers became hometown legends. They both attended Pembroke Hill High School, where they made headlines for their performance on the court. As an intimidating duo, they led their high school to two consecutive state championships and Kareem won another after his brother graduated.

So, when the name Kareem is mentioned in Kansas City, its unlikely basketball fans there think first of Abdul-Jabbar.

Rush started playing basketball at about the age of 10 and had tested his athletic skills at baseball and football, much like his older brother. However, he ruled out the other two sports fairly early.

Well, his mother Glenda helped make the decision about football after JaRon was knocked unconscious during a game. He got a concussion, Kareem said. Because of that, he didnt play anymore and she didnt let me play.

Its probably a good thing that those sports were pushed aside as the Rush brothers went on to become standout basketball players. Younger brother Brandon further proved that basketball is in the Rush familys genes by performing as a star player for the University of Kansas. Kareem was in San Antonio, Texas, on April 7 to watch Brandon help the Jayhawks win the NCAA championship over Memphis in overtime.

Kareem said he probably got even better at his game because he constantly felt like he was being compared to JaRon, who played at UCLA. I admired my brother, but I was always 'Rons little brother, he said. I constantly tried to work harder to get out of his shadow.

If he wasnt shooting hoops for a living, Rush would enjoy testing his vocal talents in a recording studio. I would love to be a singer thats my dream job, said Rush, who would likely record the smooth type of music put out by singers Maxwell or John Legend if given the chance.

That goal wouldnt be too much of a stretch.

Rush showed enough talent in his high school choir that he was selected to sing a solo for one of their concerts.

He considers himself a fan of many types of music. Im always listening to my iPod, he said. Im really big into hip-hop, but I like to listen to a lot of different things as long as its good music.

Rush, who describes himself as shy and kind of quiet until he gets to know a person, said his first priority in life is being a good father. He has one child and another on the way. The lesson he wants to pass on to his children as they mature is to maintain a strong work ethic.

I know its a clich, but you have to work hard, keep pursuing your goal and never back down, Rush said.