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Original Issue

Rush to the Fore Missouri's Kareem Rush is quietly escaping the shadow of big brother JaRon

In the fall Missouri sophomore Kareem Rush showed some of his
teammates a videotape of highlights from his high school days at
Pembroke Hill Academy in Kansas City, Mo. The clips included a
variety of spectacular dunks, but Rush's buddies couldn't help
but notice that most of them were thrown down not by Kareem, but
by his older brother, JaRon. It was the story of Kareem's life,
caught on tape. "People always called me JaRon's little brother,"
he says. "Growing up in his shadow really shaped my personality.
It taught me to be reluctant and hold back my feelings."

A smooth lefty swingman who at 6'6" prefers a feathery fadeaway
to a thunderous slam, Kareem is casting a long shadow of his own
these days. While JaRon, a 6'7" forward, toils in obscurity for
the Los Angeles Sparks of the American Basketball
Association--having gone undrafted by the NBA last June after
leaving UCLA following his sophomore year--Kareem has emerged as
the leading candidate for Big 12 player of the year. Through
Sunday he led the conference in scoring with a 21.9 point
average, and last week he staged a national coming-out party by
getting 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Tigers' 75-66 upset of
then No. 3 Kansas.

Rush still isn't assertive enough for Missouri coach Quin Snyder,
however. "Kareem plays the game with a lot of artistry, but he
tends to take the path of least resistance," says Snyder, whose
Tigers were 14-6 (5-2 in the Big 12) at week's end. "He's always
waiting for you to call on him, when he should be raising his

Snyder saw a prime example of Rush's tendency to be a follower in
December 1999, when the NCAA suspended Rush for nine games of his
freshman year for having accepting $2,300 from Myron Piggie, his
former AAU coach in Kansas City. During the time he was out, Rush
zealously attacked the workout regimen Snyder had given him, and
after returning on Jan. 22 he averaged 14.7 points and was named
Big 12 co-freshman of the year. Once the season was over,
however, Snyder sensed that Rush was neglecting his
responsibilities on and off the court. He insisted Rush call him
once a day throughout the spring. "It was a way of keeping him
connected," Snyder says. "He wasn't living his life with a strong
sense of purpose. He's still developing that fortitude."

While Kareem grows more comfortable with his burgeoning stardom,
he and JaRon, who had a rocky relationship growing up, are closer
than they've been in years. Shortly after JaRon signed a contract
last summer with the Kansas City Knights (he was traded to Los
Angeles in December), he visited Kareem in Columbia. For the
first time in Kareem's experience, several people referred to
JaRon as "Kareem's brother" as the two walked around town. "I
have to admit, that felt pretty good," Kareem says, smiling at
the recollection. "My mom always said I should have been the
older brother."