Little All-City girls basketball Coach of the Year Londaryl Perry more than a coach

Northeast coach Londaryl Perry's rough past is a lesson for his players and students on how to overcome failure and difficulties to reach greatness.
by Jason Kersey Published: April 2, 2012

At age 21, Londaryl Perry took his mother to court.

He stood before a judge and passionately pleaded for custody of his brothers, 13-year old Clifford and 10-year old Jermey.

“I'm six months married,” Londaryl told the judge. “I have no job. My wife and I are both trying to go through school and finish. But I can't deal with this situation anymore.”

The judge listened.

Today, Londaryl Perry is a basketball coach, and a fine one. In his first season coaching a varsity squad, he led Northeast's girls to a Class 2A runner-up finish and is The Oklahoman's Little All-City Coach of the Year.

Londaryl Perry is also a history teacher. He uses the past to show his students how people have overcome failure and difficulties to achieve greatness.

But above all else, Londaryl Perry is a life-changer. He got started in that business with his two brothers.

“I'd probably be in jail somewhere,” Jermey Perry, now 25, said of where he'd be without his brother taking custody.

Londaryl Perry is wildly popular with students at Northeast. He gets hugs as he walks through school halls. Students regularly knock on his classroom door during his planning periods just to talk.

But Perry still sometimes hears a common refrain when he tries reaching out.

“You don't know what we've been through,” some kids will say. “You don't know how we grew up.”

To reach them, Perry doesn't need to go into the sordid details about the abusive world of death and drugs in which he was raised.

He doesn't have to talk of how as a teenager he fought grown men, who were in his home to smoke crack with his mother, to get them to leave.

How his mother, whose love he would have given anything for, made fun of him, calling him a “bastard” and “ugly.”

Perry moved from apartment to apartment with his mother and brothers as he grew up. He saw things many couldn't imagine during his unthinkably difficult childhood, but it prepared him for his life's work. No one knows better than Londaryl Perry how to reach troubled kids.

“As a kid, I couldn't help who my parents were,” Perry said. “But without some of the people throwing bits of love and interest here and there, I probably wouldn't have made it.

“Kids can tell if you care, and that makes a difference.”

TRAGEDY AFTER TRAGEDY

At age 11, Londaryl Perry lost his father to a heroin overdose.

He rarely saw his dad, and the relationship wasn't at all close. Still, the death was the first of three consecutive tragedies that shaped Londaryl Perry's childhood and led the boy to briefly entertain thoughts of suicide at age 13.

Shortly after his dad's death, his 3-year old brother suffered a seizure — a side effect of his mother's drug abuse while pregnant — so debilitating he had to completely start his development over again, being put back on a bottle, being potty trained again and relearning how to crawl.

Not long after that episode, Londaryl Perry was in his mother's apartment when his uncle overdosed on Phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP or angel dust.

His uncle was vomiting blood and other fluids, “green stuff,” Londaryl remembered.

The family didn't have a phone in their apartment, so Londaryl had to rush to the apartment pay phone to call an ambulance.

“I remember looking at him once they got him in the ambulance, standing over him and watching him basically die,” Londaryl said.

‘IT WAS LIKE A FAIRY TALE'

At age 16, Londaryl Perry was going to school primarily for the food.

“The best meal of my day was school lunch,” Perry said. “That's why I went to school.”

Perry was a budding high school basketball star at Putnam City West. Colleges were beginning to show interest in the 5-foot-10 guard, who averaged 20.5 points per game as a senior, when he was named to The Oklahoman's Big All-City team. He set a school record with a 44-point performance during the Putnam North Tournament that year.

At home, Perry was frequently fighting the adult men who were in his home to smoke crack with his mom.

“It got to the point where my mother's crackhead friends knew my basketball schedule as well as I did,” Perry said. “They knew my practice schedule and everything because that's when they could come to my house and get high with my mother.”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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