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NBA star finds politics can be a rough game too

SACRAMENTO In the NBA and in life, Kevin Johnson always seemed the guy who would do the right thing.

This was the kid who survived Sacramento's toughest neighborhood to study hard and set scoring records, graduating to matchups with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan.

This was the charismatic native son whom President Bill Clinton once urged to get into politics, whose accolades and connections made him the one to beat when he announced his candidacy for Sacramento mayor.

But with election day almost here, Johnson is in the unlikely role of underdog, his poll numbers plummeting, his golden reputation sullied.

Reports circulated by foes and the local media have shattered Johnson's choirboy image. In the grainy netherworld of hit mailers and scandal fanning websites, he's been rebranded as a child molester, slumlord, creep. He's accused of letting properties rot, of fondling young girls.

For an altruistic athlete named one of the "15 Greatest Men on Earth" by McCall's magazine, who received the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award and was named a "Point of Light" by former President George Bush, the fusillade has been tough to take.

"Politics are dirtier and more physical than the NBA," said Johnson, 42.

Johnson, known to friends and fans simply as KJ, is trying to overcome the hurricane Custom mlb jerseys headwinds of this campaign the only way he knows how: with hustle and determination, by running hard, literally.

A recent afternoon found him on the streets and sidewalks as the temperature edged past 95. Some candidates walk a neighborhood to hand out brochures. Johnson dons black sneakers and in slacks with shirt and tie runs from house to house, voter to voter.

"I'm Kevin Johnson, and I'm running for mayor," he announced while shaking hands with Warry Vogelsang, a 64 year old retired truck mechanic who knows exactly who he is. In Sacramento, KJ is as high profile as they come.

"I hope to get your support in June," Johnson told him. "God bless you."

Vogelsang was left with the stunned expression of a true believer fresh from a papal audience. Despite the mudslinging, "he might win," Vogelsang said. "He's pretty good."

Johnson may be burning the running shoe rubber, but a recent Sacramento Bee/KXJZ News poll found that his early lead out of the gate had evaporated, leaving the erstwhile hoops star 7 percentage points behind two term incumbent Mayor Heather Fargo.

The smart money is that Fargo, whose tenure is marked more by nuts and bolts than big vision, could take it all Tuesday, garnering the 50% plus one vote margin needed to avoid a November runoff.

But some political observers aren't so sure.

Barbara O'Connor, director of Cal State Sacramento's Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media, believes Johnson's door knocking campaign could turn the tide. With $1 million, he's poised to outspend Fargo 3 to 1.

His hometown devotion also might help, she said. "With Kevin, you have someone who could have gone out and lived the jet setter life after the NBA. And he didn't."

Johnson's back story is legend around the capital city.

Born to a 16 year old mother, KJ was raised by his white grandparents. His grandfather, George Peat, was a union sheet metal worker who instilled in him a steely work ethic and devotion to good deeds: money for the needy, help to a stranded motorist. "His actions spoke so loud," Johnson says today.

At UC Berkeley, Johnson earned good grades and became a devout Christian.

In the NBA, he spent most of his career with the Phoenix Suns, a three time All Star on the court with a straight shooter reputation off it.

Early on, Johnson made a habit of returning to his old neighborhood, bent on philanthropy. He set up a charity, St. Hope, and began mentoring Sacramento teens after school.

He also established a development company, using Magic Johnson's multi pronged business model, and began the painstaking task of tapping government money to spur urban renewal in Oak Park.

His biggest success is the 40 Acres project, which transformed a decaying block into a home to businesses missing from the threadbare neighborhood: a bookstore, a 225 seat theater, Cheap authentic jerseys a Starbucks.

"Kevin is the hardest working individual I've ever met in my life," said lawyer Kevin Hiestand, a Johnson friend since junior high and, with his father, a longtime legal advisor.

Johnson retired in 2000 and moved back to Sacramento for good. Soon, he took on his most ambitious effort: assuming control of his old high school.

With test scores and spirits flagging at Sacramento High, Johnson's St. Hope in 2003 won the right to convert the campus into a charter school. His campaign brags about the results: Seven of 10 graduates go on to college.

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Kobe Bryant tops list of high school to NBA players

Manage your account settings.My AccountLog OutBefore thedraft eligibilityrule change in 2006, more than 40 players were selected for the NBA draft directly out of high school.1. Kobe Bryant, Lower Merion (Philadelphia)High SchoolHisaccolades speak for themselves:Five time NBA Champion, two time Finals MVP, 17 timeAll Star,12 time All Defensive selection,2008MVP. Bryant is third on the NBA's all time scoring list with 32,482 total points (and counting). He's had one of the most storied careers of all time, and at the age of 37, he's not quite finished yet.NBA A to Z podcast: Will this really be Kobe Bryant last season?2. LeBron James, St. Vincent St. Mary (Akron, Ohio) High SchoolThere are already arguments for Jamesas the best player of all time and he's 30.3. Moses Coach purses outlet Malone,Petersburg (Virginia) High SchoolMalone was one of the first players to go directly from high school to the pros, when he was taken by the ABA's Utah Stars. He was a double double machine that could score at willwhile prolifically grabbing rebound after rebound. He was an NBA Champion,NBA Finals MVP, athree time league MVP, 13 time All Star, and an NBA Hall of Fame inductee (2001). For his career, he averaged 20.6points per gameand 12.2rebounds. He ranks eighth in all time scoring and fifth in all time rebounding.Moses Malone impact on the NBA was long lasting4. Kevin Garnett, Farragut Career Academy (Chicago)Garnett ranks 15thin scoring, ninth in rebounds, and is tied for 17thin blocks. Just like the players before him on this list, Garnett has an extensive Cheap nhl jerseys archive of achievements 2004 MVP,Defensive Player of the Year, 15 time All Star, 12 time All Defense, and an NBA Champion just to name a few. Howard'sdominance on both sides of the basketball is something Nfl jerseys from china that very few players have done three time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Coach handbags outlet eight time All Star,five time All Defense, and an NBA Slam Dunk Contest Winner. He has a long time left in this league and may very well secure his spot as one of the greatest centers ever.

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hints at a growing romance

Two weeks into "Survivor: Philippines," Russell's tribe has the distinction of losing every challenge so far, not to mention two tribe members. (Spoiler alert)

The dysfunctional Matsing NFL jerseys wholesale tribe got a lot of air time Wednesday night and for good reason. The departure of Zane in the game's first tribal council did nothing to ease Russell's paranoia or motivate his four tribemates.

One of three returning "Survivor" veterans all three left the game in medical evacuations, Russell realized his head was on the chopping block and made Wholesale jerseys from china yet another promise to tone down his bossiness.

In fact, at the challenge, instead of making assignments, he asked for volunteers, only to be turned down by Roxy and Angie. Meanwhile, Angie and Malcolm have taken to cuddling up in the shelter at night, something that sends up a red flag to others. As Boston Rob and Amber proved in an earlier game, there is no alliance tighter than a romantic one.

But instead of ousting one of those two, the tribe chose Wholesale elite jerseys to get rid of Roxy, who blew the whistle on the lovebirds. Of course, there's some very good reasons Air max shoes wholesale for that. Roxy is annoying, always whining about the rain and showing a lot of animosity to Angie.

Surprisingly, the 28 year old Brooklyn seminary student took the ouster with grace.

On the Tandang tribe, RC finds a clue to the hidden immunity idol and shares it with Abi Marie. But this does nothing to ease Abi's growing suspicion about RC's bond with leader Michael Skupin who was evacuated from the second "Survivor" game years ago. RC is surprised by Abi's accusations. Meanwhile, former "Facts of Life" star Lisa Whelchel continues to make her tribemates uncomfortable. Lisa, who professes to be shy and lonely, goes off by herself for a pity party, only to have her actions misconstrued as a search for the idol. It looks as if her stay in the Phillipines might be a short one.

The other celebrity castaway, former baseball star Jeff Kent, is nursing a bad knee on the Kalabaw tribe and is grateful for the rain which keeps the tribe in the shelter instead of working on the beach. The tribe's leader, Jonathan Penner, continues to annoy his colleagues with his desperate and solo search for the idol. He ends up finding it. And that may be lucky for him because no one was fooled by his explanation that he was searching under the shelter for a lost contact lens.

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