‘Basketball saved my life’ Mississippi college player says sport pushed him past life that could have been

Published 10:12 am Saturday, February 26, 2022

Natchez High School Alumnus and Fayette native Kedarius Stampley could be on the streets doing bad things where other kids he knew ended up. Instead, he spends his time on the hardwood growing as a basketball player.

The Co-Lin sophomore started playing basketball when he was young in addition to other sports like football and baseball. As he grew older, his friends stuck with football, but he decided to play basketball.

He played summer basketball in middle school with different players and coaches. In ninth grade, he transferred from Jefferson County to Natchez High School where head coach David Haywood pushed him to be better.

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“It saved my life. It changed my route,” Stampley said. “When I took basketball seriously, my life changed and I wanted to be good. All I think about now is basketball. I enjoy everything about it. I love to compete and every time I get on the court I compete. I can’t let the next man outdo me.”

At Co-Lin, he studies Health, Recreation and Physical Education so he can become a coach one day. He hopes to coach kids in basketball and give them the gift the game gave him.

“I want to pass it on to the younger generation. I want to save other kids’ lives because basketball saved my life,” Stampley said.

Settling in at Co-Lin

Stampley is in his sophomore year of college academically but because of COVID he has an extra year of eligibility and is a freshman. Last year, he played basketball at Pearl River Community College where he struggled to find playing time and confidence.

In 11 games, he averaged three and a half points per game. He decided to transfer to Co-Lin where his confidence has grown. His freshman season was a challenge because it was the first time he had played in college.

The game was different than it was in high school. Players have to be disciplined, stronger and smarter at the college level, he said. This season, he has played in 20 games and averaged nine points per game. Consistently, he logs more than 15 minutes a game with a high of 33 minutes played in three games.

“I came in with the mindset I’m not sitting on the bench this year,” Stampley said.

More to play

With an additional year of eligibility because of COVID, he could stay another year to develop as a player. At this time, he has not decided if he will stay or move on to a senior college. He said he won’t make a decision until the season is over.

Co-Lin went 6-16 this season but hosts a regional tournament game against East Central at 2 p.m. this Saturday. He said the season has been challenging because they hadn’t won many games, but it could change with the game against East Central.

“I’m excited because now everyone is at 0-0,” Stampley said. “We will give it our all and take it one game at a time. We may end up finishing out on top. This is where it matters.”

Regardless of how the season ends, he is thankful to be where he is.

“Thank you to everyone who has helped me and believed in me,” Stampley said. “Thank you to all of my coaches, to my family and friends. Thank you to God for getting me here.”