The basketball story of one of the greatest scorers ever. Alphonso Ford’s story is a story of power of human’s will and determination.
Mississippi Delta’s Finest
From his early college years at Mississippi Valley State he tuned everybody’s eyes to the small black schools of the Delta that had been disappeared from the NBA radars for many years.
He became the first player in NCAA history to average 25 points per game in four straight seasons. His 3,165 career points scored in the NCAA are 4th on the all time scoring list behind only Pete Maravich, Freeman Williams and Lionel Simmons and ahead of NBA legend Larry Bird. His school did not have a draft selection for 20 years until he got drafted as the 5th pick of the 2nd round from 76ers.
His breathtaking achievements reestablish the position of all the small schools of Delta in the basketball map and gave a reason for hope to many young players.
Europe and the twist of fate
His European journey to stardom was no different. He had to work all his way to the top from zero. In the small clubs of Hueska (Spain) and Papagos (Greece) he showed that, no matter which side of the Atlantic, he was always unstoppable. The leading scorers awards (25.1 and 24.6ppg) were keep coming and the European giants start taking notice.
But fate had other plans for Alphonso. Before the beginning of the 1997–98 season, he was diagnosed with leukemia. The treatment cost Alphonso the whole season. He knew that coming back was not easy. Fighting opponents is one thing, fighting them and leukemia is just not a fair battle. But he was determined not to surrender. He came back defying his disease in the utterly remarkable way. He could not be stopped. He was already a winner.
For two seasons he led Peristeri in new heights grabbing all personal titles (leading scorer and MVP of the league) and led the team for the first time into Euroleague recognition. Ford shined for the first time at the highest European stage. He was crushing all defenses. The finest coaches and the hardest defenders tried to stop him, but in vein. He led Euroleague in scoring with 26 ppg and his nomination to the All-Euroleague First Team was a huge recognition and an official introduction to superstar status.
In Olympiacos his mission was to bring his squad back to the top. He led the Reds to a Greek Cup trophy and at Euroleague’s Top 16, falling one game short from reaching the Final Four. He was once again the Euroleague's leading scorer with 24.8 points per game.
Next two seasons find Ford in Italy playing for Mens Sana Siena and Scavolini Pesaro. There was no adaptation period for this phenomenal player. Time after time Al kept scoring and the commentators could not stop repeating…”Una magia di Ford.” He was again All-Euroleague First Team leading Siena to the Final Four. In Pesaro even though leukemia was in advanced stage, he was still as merciless with opponent defenses scoring 22.2 ppg. Scavolini earned a long awaited Euroleague qualification, and was the Italian Cup's runner up. Ford mania was spread all over, Alphonso had become a legend. Nobody could believe that the inevitable was so close.
Farewell from a legend
His seven years battle with leukemia was coming to an end. He had single handedly beaten death year after year. It was not just a survival. He was marching throwing knock downs year after year. He was playing against all odds and yet he was so magical to watch that you think God was giving him a long break so that everybody could watch him playing. Diminished by a disease that probably cost him greatness early in his career, one of the greatest Euroleague scorers of all time died at the age of 32. After seven years, God had decided to bring the show into heaven. Seven years later and we are still certain that Alphonso gives God a good treat as He ‘s watching him scoring in the playgrounds of heaven.
His tremendous scoring ability made him a reference in the matter. In the year 2004, the Euroleague paid tribute to Ford by naming after him its leading scorer of the year award Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy.
Alphonso was survived by his daughter Quekenshia Aljernea Ford, his wife, Paula, and their sons Karlderek and Alphonso, Jr.