It unfolded on a four-letter network, which has no competition, a monopoly of sorts, on Mothers Day Sunday. By Monday, it had grown new legs and by Tuesday, it had mushroomed into an NCAA investigation of one of the more prestigious universities in America.
Welcome to the world of OJ Mayo, a basketball wunderkind who has been a projected NBA lottery pick since he was just 13 years old, but had to pit stop at the University of Southern California because the NBA prohibits players from joining their league until at least a year of college ball.
Thus Mayo, who had attended three high schools in four years, landed at a school known for its football tradition with hopes of creating a winning basketball tradition and decided to leave after his freshman year to go to the pros.
With the NBA draft just a month away and Mayo considered to be a lottery pick among the top 10 selections at worst, a member of his inner circle decided he wanted to be center stage himself.
Louis Johnson, a former prep sports writer for the Long Beach Press Telegram, had left his cushion position where he was making a name for himself in the basketball community a couple of years ago.
Johnson told me at the time that he just wanted to make more money and subsequently landed with a promotional company that specialized in the selling of baseball caps with logos or messages of companies or promotional campaigns.
He asked me on one occasion to set up a meeting for him with local shoe retailer Warehouse Shoe Sales with hopes that he could convince them of purchasing mass quantities.
After that venture apparently did not pan out for Johnson, he was then arrested and served nine days in jail for a misdemeanor cocaine possession charge.
Johnson was obviously in need of some financial help and thus he befriended a guy with whom he had become acquainted with during his days as a sports writer – Rodney Guillory.
Guillory is the personal friend and confidant of OJ Mayo, and he met Mayo while promoting a high school basketball tournament and told me that the relationship was more as a friend than anything else.
However, when one assumes an association with such a high profile talent as Mayo all sorts of eyebrows are raised, especially since Guillory did not come from the contaminated circles of AAU basketball.
His stronghold had been that of promoting some of the most successful prep tournaments in Southern California.
Many of his relationships are in Compton, namely at Centennial High School where on many occasions he received CIF sanction under that school’s name to host his tournaments which included the likes of Oak Hill Academy, Compton Dominguez among others.
In a published article this week, it was revealed that Guillory has also had some relationships with sports agents with whom he recruited athletes for. The potential recruits received financial benefits and cars, Guillory reportedly received money as the go between.
|Jeff Lewis for Sentinel
CONNECTED: Local basketball promoter Rodney Guillory stands here with former Oak Hill Academy star and current NBA Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant. Guillory is OJ Mayo's most trusted confidant.
It’s a long, old, stale game that is played out over and over with many potential athletes and Guillory did not invent it – he was just one to allegedly participate in it.
Not in his wildest dreams did he ever think that a player of the ability of Mayo would take a liking to him, there were so many agents and runners chasing after Mayo that you couldn’t count them.
However, after a bond of trust grew between both Mayo and Guillory, he also allowed for Johnson to share in the association.
That in hindsight was Guillory’s biggest mistake, for it was Johnson who went to ESPN and told his side of the story on an episode of Outside The Lines.
Johnson, whose credibility to begin with was shattered, accused the prominent sports agency BDA of funneling thousands of dollars to Guillory for Mayo, a claim that has yet to be substantiated.
BDA is ran and operated by former Santa Clara University Academic All American Bill Duffy, and the firm boast of elite NBA clients such as Carmelo Anthony, Yao Ming, Steve Nash and Greg Oden just to name a few.
It is a roster that also includes Boston Celtics starting point guard Rajon Rondo and Detroit Pistons star forward Tayshun Prince, and if those names in and of themselves did not attract Mayo, Guillory certainly could not have done anything to help that.
Another principal whose name was brought into the abyss was BDA vice president Calvin Andrews, who for years has been a reputable figure in basketball from the grass roots level and throughout the collegiate ranks.
Andrews’ ability to recognize talent at an early age allows for his firm to establish relationships with friends and relatives that go way beyond the scope of pay for play.
Regardless of what anyone may write about Mayo, the kid is not a dummy and Guillory is not calling shots for him.
Mayo has long made it clear that he was making decisions for himself as it related to what high school he attended and which college he would attend. Gulliory won his trust by default, not by chance.
Because of Johnson’s desperation attempt to extort more money than Guillory was giving him, he went belly up and ranted to the masses, the white controlled and dominated media giant that is ESPN.
In the midst of all of this are five African American men: Mayo, Guillory, Duffy, Andrews and least of all Johnson.
While he already had one bone, Johnson wanted someone else’s bone as well as his, exhibiting the level of greed and disloyalty that for decades has destroyed Black families, business and friendships.
Johnson went from chronicling the stories to becoming one himself. He went from being a trusted advocate of young Black athletes to a snitch of the worst kind.
He went from escaping from the slave ship to running back to the “massas” and turning in other slaves.
Somewhere in the desert of Arizona, Johnson is thinking to himself how his life became so derailed.
It’s simple. He got on a train, became a conductor and crashed the damn thing.