It doesn't matter the brand, style, or the color.
Each and every pair of sneakers Donte Fitzpatrick laces up has "DM" or "Desmond Merriweather" etched on them in clear, black lettering.
A reputable late Memphis grass-roots hoops pioneer, Fitzpatrick was instrumental in cultivating Fitzpatrick's double duty acumen throughout his prep career.
Merriweather died in early February, following a lengthy battle with colon cancer. He was only 41.
An innate competitor and high-adrenaline defensive pest, Fitzpatrick hates nothing more than losing.
An agonizing loss can linger within Fitzpatrick, breaking into his solitary dreams.
Eventually, a hard-to-swallow loss will create a mountain of motivation in the wiry 6-foot-5, 183-pound guard.
The loss of Merriweather--who Fitzpatrick regarded as a father figure--has been by far his toughest to stomach.
"I was just so hurt after he passed," said Fitzpatrick, who averaged 25 points and six assists at Southwind HS (TN), en route to choosing Ole Miss over Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and hometown Memphis.
"Those were tough times. But I knew he was going to heaven, so I just had to face the fact."
In Fitzpatrick, his mentor's lasting legacy lives on and on.
A defensive tactician, Merriweather enforced furious wall-to-wall pressure to the point of exhaustion.
Fitzpatrick, whom Merriweather coached at Lester Middle School and advised throughout his high school and AAU career, bought in.
Remembering Merriweather's constant guidance and relentless urging, Fitzpatrick relishes his niche as a stout on-the-ball defender.
Fitzpatrick has fond recollections of Merriweather getting on him thoroughly.
CONTINUE READING HERE
'Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey didn’t want to play basketball when he heard the news.
The Ole Miss freshman was in eighth grade in late 2010 when his coach, Desmond Merriweather, received a diagnosis that he would die within the next 48 hours because of colon cancer. Merriweather had been diagnosed with the disease a year before.
“You couldn’t tell something was wrong with him,” Fitzpatrick-Dorsey said. “He’s always been a strong person. He got up every day and went to the gym.”
Merriweather survived beyond those two days before dying last February, six years after being diagnosed. But the impact he made on Fitzpatrick-Dorsey’s life, as well as on many young players growing up in the Binghampton neighborhood in Memphis, continues today.
When Fitzpatrick-Dorsey struggled to get minutes as a high school freshman, Merriweather told him time and again to be patient. Fitzpatrick-Dorsey developed into a three-star recruit who received offers from Florida State, Tennessee and Texas A&M, among others.
Continue Reading Daniel Paulling's Story Here