Basketball squad shares fears

Sure, now some of them are 6-11 and would tower over any ghost or goblin, but there was a time when the University of Alabama's basketball players once cowered under the covers just like any other kid.

Friday is Halloween, and in honor of "Fright Night" the Crimson Tide had a little fun in the training room as they were being taped before practice Thursday afternoon and swapped stories about what used to send them running for the covers when they were children.

"I was scared to look under the bed at night because my parents used to tell me that if I got out of bed after they'd put me to bed that he (some evil being) would come out and get me. So I never got out of bed. I think that's what made me such a good sleeper today," said 6-foot-2 junior guard Jason Reese of Indian Springs.

For most players, it was horror movies that sent their blood to chilling. And for others, like 6-foot-7 senior forward Reggie Rambo, it might just be their somewhat hazy memories of actual events that are scary.

"I am not afraid of anything," the Lena, Louisiana native declares.

"Nothing? No movie, no ghost, nothing scares you?" he's asked.

"Nothing," he answers emphatically.

It is a declaration quickly de-bunked by his fellow senior, six-foot guard Antoine Pettway.

"We were on this little Halloween 'Trail of Terror' somewhere, I think in Northport. A little chainsaw man came out toward Rambo. Now there was no chain on the chainsaw. And Reggie Rambo, six seven, three hundred and fifty pound Reggie Rambo, runs through the woods and almost breaks (former Tide women's player) Joni Crenshaw's nose running into her as he's running away from the little chainsaw man. And everybody was so surprised because when he started running, every one of us started running. A big guy like that? We figured it had to be something bad. And we were very disappointed when we realized what he was running from that Rambo was that frightened. So, Reggie Rambo, you are a fibber. You are a big, scary boy," yells Pettway across the training room in Rambo's direction.

Rambo just grins and still admits nothing.

Movies and movie characters are what used to creep them out.

"I like watching scary movies," says 6-foot-5 sophomore guard/forward Lucky Williams who is a native of Nigeria. "I liked 'Ghost Ship.' And I like going to haunted houses. I've been to some here with my teammates. I like it when people scream. That's fun."

And which of his teammates screams loudest at haunted house trips? Williams, laying flat on the training table as he's nursing an injured knee, lifts his torso and immediately points to a man sitting across the room getting his ankle taped. "Rambo!" Williams shouts in answer.

"Watching scary movies would get me scared at night when I was a kid," says 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Kennedy Winston of Prichard. "Sometimes you could really scare yourself because you'd be thinking that someone was watching you. You'd be sitting there watching the TV, and then all the sudden you'd be looking around the room, thinking somebody was there in the dark watching you watch the movie."

For Emmett Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 205 pound senior forward from Birmingham, a movie about building a subdivision over a haunted cemetery used to send him to shivering. "Poltergeist. It was just scary. They would just come in through the window or somewhere and just grab the little girl. That little girl was always so scared all the time and I would be, too, when I watched it. When I'd watch scary movies as a kid, I used to cut every light on in the house. I'd be too scared to go to sleep."

For 6-foot-3 junior guard Earnest Shelton of Memphis, terror came in the form of one particularly heinous movie villain.

"Candy Man-when you'd get in the bathroom and the lights would be off and you looked in the mirror, it'd be just like in Candy Man. That used to get me. He's the guy in the movie who, when you'd look in the mirror, you'd spin around three times and say 'Candy Man' three times, and then he'd come and kill you. So after I saw that movie, whenever I'd go into the bathroom, the first thing I used to do was cut the lights on."

Candy Man, too, used to haunt the imagination of 6-foot-11 freshman center Shawn Taylor. "Candy Man, Jason (from the Friday the 13th Movies), they all scared me. I kind of slept badly after I watched them. I did at least turn the lights off. I was a little brave I guess."

For one Tide freshman, the freak who gave him fits came in the form of a seemingly innocent looking pudgy male doll come to life-a very sinister life that is.

"Chucky. Chucky used to really scare me," says 6-foot-1 freshman guard LaKory Daniels of Troy. "When I was little I used to be scared of Chucky and I thought all my dolls would come to life."

"Dolls?" Shelton interjects, looking at his teammate in shock.

Daniels quickly realizes his blunder. "No, I don't mean dolls. I didn't have dolls. I had stuffed animals. I was a kid. I had stuffed animals, and when I was in my room in the dark at night, I used to watch them and worry that they'd be like Chucky and come to life and get me."

Jermareo Davidson is 6-foot-10 and 210 pounds now, but there was a time when the freshman from Atlanta was several feet smaller and feared an everyday household chore. What sent his heart racing?

"When I used to take out the trash at night," confesses Davidson. "Homeless people would sometimes walk up the street, so I'd run back in the house with the trash. I knew I couldn't get out of taking it out, so I would sit it on the back porch and then wake up before everybody else and then take it out first thing in the morning when it was daylight." Justin Jonus can relate to such an admission.

"I still have to do it, but it's not as bad now," says the 6-foot-5 freshman guard/forward from Boaz. "But I used to have to go up in the woods and feed the cats because they would always want to be fed up there. They'd never come and get the food in the garage, so I'd always have to take it out there. When we first moved to that new house, we saw coyotes out there in the area where I had to go feed them. And every time I went out there to feed the cats, I would take a stick or something because I was scared to death a coyote was going to get me-every time. And every week the food would get closer to the house because I didn't want to have to walk that far and risk a coyote getting me."

And did he ever see a coyote?

"Naw. Never."

Halloween is not celebrated in 6-foot-9 freshman forward Akini Adkins' native home in Cameroon. But he quickly got in spirit several years ago when he moved to Tallahassee where he was adopted by a family there.

"Freddy Krueger scares me," Adkins admits regarding the "Nightmare on Elm Street's evil slasher. "But that was a long time ago. There was also a cartoon that used to scare me."

A cartoon?

"Yes, a cartoon. It was a space ship that was always going somewhere and there was a bad guy in it. It was a cartoon, but it was scary! I think Halloween is fun. When I moved to Tallahassee, I dressed up a few times. I was a basketball player one year and Buzz Lightyear another."

Chuck Davis, Bama's 6-foot-7, 230 pound junior forward from Selma shared Adkins' fear. "I was pretty fearless, but I was always scared of the Freddy Krueger movies. Any time I watched a Freddie Kruger movie I slept with my mom that night."

It was October 31st's namesake flick that produced chills from Bama's head coach, Mark Gottfried. "Halloween," he says without pause. "Jason-the original Halloween. I remember leaving the theater scared. And when we walked out, there was a guy across the street with a mask on. It scared all of us."

With the Crimson and White Game looming at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, Bama's basketball players likely won't be out among the Trick or Treaters Friday night. But Pettway offers this haunting advice to kids who do worry about things that go bump in the night.

"I'm here to tell all the little kids that the Boogie Man is still alive, so watch out!" he warns. But fear not, kids; he's just being Pettway, Bama's team funnyman. "I'm just playing. Don't worry about the Boogie Man. He doesn't scare me. Now Reggie Rambo, he scares me."


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