“He had a bit of an attitude problem when he was a little kid,” says Gerald Stokes, one of Aquille’s former recreation league coaches who still mentors and trains him. “A lot of people didn’t understand him as a kid. He just needed to learn how to control his emotions.”
Stokes provided a stern hand, when others might’ve looked the other way due to Carr’s talent.
“Whenever we had an attitude situation, I would sit him on the bench and call his father, telling him, ‘Come and get your kid,’” says Stokes. “I was tough on him because I wanted him to get better as a person.”
The basketball court was not the sole province of Aquille’s budding local celebrity.
“Aquille was like Deion Sanders, Reggie Bush, Michael Vick and Devin Hester all rolled into one on the football field,” says Theodoric Bell, one of Carr’s former Pop Warner coaches, who has known him since he was six. Bell has also coached him with the Team Melo AAU hoops program and is his current assistant varsity basketball coach at Patterson.
In one regional championship football game, with the opposing team winning by a few points, Carr was inserted at nose guard. Late in the fourth quarter, backed up against their goal line, Carr slid up to Bell and calmly said, “I’m gonna sack the quarterback and cause a fumble.”
On the ensuing play, the littlest guy on the field sliced into the backfield, sacked the quarterback, caused and recovered the fumble. His team proceeded to drive the length of the field in less than a minute to win the game.
“How’d you know you were going to do that?” asked Bell.
“The center’s forearm would tense up right before he snapped the ball,” said Aquille. “I was studying him and timed it.”
As he crossed the bridge into adolescence, Carr was faced with some daunting choices as the lure of the streets began calling some of his friends.
“We always preached to him about the legends that came through this town that made the wrong choices and never made it,” says Johnson. “He knew that he didn’t just want to be some street legend, having people just talk about what he could have done or who he could have been.”
Says Aquille: “I knew that I had something good going for me and I didn’t want to blow it.”
Before meeting his ballyhooed incoming freshman, Patterson head coach Harry Martin had heard all of the accolades. He also heard that Aquille Carr had a bad attitude and was an academic liability.
“I told him when he got here, ‘I don’t care what happened in the past,’” says Martin. “The only thing I’m going to grade you on is what happens here at Patterson. And he’s proven himself to be a great kid with a positive attitude.”
En route to being named the Max Preps National Basketball Freshman of the Year in 2010, Aquille punctuated one of the most brilliant ninth grade seasons in Baltimore history with his dazzling 39-point, 19-assist masterpiece against Lake Clifton and their elite, 6-3 senior guard Josh Selby.
“Aquille was relentless against Josh,” says Lake Clifton coach Herman Harried. “He’s a little warrior that doesn’t get rattled and runs his team very well, a complete player who competes with conviction.”
The moment that crystallized his astonishing freshman campaign was the dunk he caught earlier in the season over City College High’s fantastic 6-5 shooting guard Nick Faust.