Hurricane gave Hall a chance
Published 5:20 am Wednesday, November 18, 2009
By CURTIS ROCKWELL
Item Sports Editor
Hurricane Katrina took hundreds of lives when it came ashore over four years ago.
That tragic storm, however, may have saved Jamal Hall’s.
Hall, a standout running back at Picayune High, was living in the now infamous lower ninth ward in New Orleans when the largest natural disaster in United States history struck on Aug. 29th, 2005.
In the aftermath of the destruction, Hall, then a seventh grader, relocated to Picayune with his family to live with his grandmother.
Four years later, he is one of the top running backs in the state, having gained almost 1,800 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns while leading the Maroon Tide into the Class 5A South State playoffs.
“Sometimes, bad things can really be a blessing in disguise,” Hall said. “It changed my life. Coming here to a safe place to grow up gave me a chance to make something of my life.”
Hall started some games as a sophomore for head coach Dodd Lee, and quickly caught on to the tailback oriented Maroon Tide offense. He picked up right at 1,300 yards and scored 19 times last season. before raising his production to an even higher level this season.
“He’s been a blessing for our program,” Lee, who has won 120 games in his 14 years at the helm of his alma mater, said. “He sees things real well, and he makes good cuts. He’s also a really tough runner, hard to bring down. He’s another good runner for us and we’ve had some really good ones.”
Hall has recorded four games of over 200 yards rushing this season, and needs 244 yards to become the fifth back in Lee’s tenure to top the 2,000 yard plateau. He has also missed the last five quarters of action with a slight ankle injury, but is expected to be ready to go against Moss Point in the Class 5A South State semifinals Friday.
“Growing up, I never thought I would be living and playing football in Picayune,” Hall added. “When I first got here, people told me that Picayune always had good running backs and I made up my mind that I wanted to be one and show what I can accomplish.”
Hall also said he often thinks about what his life might have been like if the killer storm never came. After all, there are hundreds of murders recorded in New Orleans every year, and less than five documented in all of Pearl River County since Katrina.
“Who knows what I would be doing, with everything that has happened down there,” He concluded. “I may not have even had the chance to play ball like I have gotten here.”