In 1988, Donny Tuley noticed a freshman boy coming to school in deteriorating condition each day. After a while, he pulled the youth over to the side to ask what was wrong.
"Well, coach, I ain't seen my momma in two weeks,” young Jeremy Compton replied. "She left … and she ain't been back.”
So Tuley did what he always does — he helped find a place where Compton could live and go to school. Compton ended up playing on two state tournament teams at Capitol Hill.
"I was scared to death my freshman year,” Compton said. "Basketball was pretty much all I had to make me feel like I belonged.”
Nearly 20 years later, Compton has a wife and two daughters, is a semester away from finishing his college degree, and has begun to follow in Tuley's footsteps by starting his coaching career as an assistant high school girls coach in Missouri.
"It's really hit me, and I know that that's what I want to do,” Compton said. "It's been worth it.”
And Compton has never forgotten what Tuley did for him. He named his oldest daughter Kyndall Renee after Tuley's wife Sherry Renee. As part of a public-speaking class at Missouri State, Compton did a presentation on Tuley, and he counts Tuley's coaching as the source for most of his basketball knowledge.
"Just about everything I know, I learned from coach Tuley. He was such an inspiration to me,” Compton said. "His players would go through a wall for him. I know I would, and if you talked to the rest of his players, I'm sure they would say the same thing.”
"God sent me to Oklahoma City so I could meet Donny.”