Where Stars are Born

December 27, 2004

Within their own cities, they are second-string addresses, but Brooklyn, Compton and West Tampa each might well consider itself the center of the sports universe. Imagine a borough that has produced not only the winningest coach in NBA history, but the man who previously held that distinction... college football's second-winningest coach ... two boxers who grew up within a mile of each other and held heavyweight belts within three years of each other. And we haven't even brought up Joe Torre yet. Viewed from the perspective of sports history--or hundreds of miles above the earth--there's no arguing that, for producing elite talent, these are America's most fertile breeding grounds.

Brooklyn

Red Auerbach

LYNCH STREET

Onetime winningest NBA coach played on fenced-in rooftop court of P.S. 122 in Williamsburg.

Bernard and Albert King

NORTH OXFORD STREET

Fort Hamilton High grads three years apart, first-round picks of the New Jersey Nets four years apart; Bernard's been stumping for Brooklyn arena for Nets.

Connie Hawkins

LEXINGTON AVENUE

Before becoming an NBA Hall of Famer, he was a playground legend on the blacktops of Bed-Stuy.

Lenny Wilkens

REID AVENUE

Alltime winningest NBA coach didn't make Boys High team until his senior year.

Riddick Bowe

LOTT AVENUE

Raised a mile from Mike Tyson, Bowe stayed straight, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High.

Mike Tyson

AMBOY STREET

Heavyweight champ's tortuous path began with lawless upbringing on Brownsville streets.

Chris Mullin

TROY AVENUE

NBA Dream Teamer in '92 led Xaverian High to state championship after transferring from Manhattan's Power Memorial.

Joe Torre

AVENUE T

Giants fan when Subway Series were the rule; won his own as Yanks' skip in 2000.

Joe Paterno

EAST 23RD STREET

Signal-caller at Brooklyn Prep grew up in same neighborhood as Vince Lombardi.

Sandy Koufax

BENSONHURST

Known for hoops prowess at Lafayette High; only a bit player on the '55 Dodgers title team.

Compton

Larry Allen

CENTENNIAL HIGH

As 10-year-old in Compton, All-Pro lineman was stabbed 12 times protecting younger brother during a fight.

Reggie Smith

CENTENNIAL HIGH

Red Sox and Dodgers All-Star was slugging shortstop and star defensive back in high school.

Charles Dumas

CENTENNIAL HIGH

At '56 Olympic trials became first athlete to high-jump seven feet; won gold at that year's Melbourne Olympics.

Lonnie Smith

WEST PIRU STREET

All-America outfielder at Centennial High was third pick in '74 draft, spent 17 years in the majors.

Williams Sisters

EAST COMPTON PARK

With Dad's urging, Serena and Venus got start on courts at corner of Atlantic Avenue and Compton Boulevard.

Duke Snider

COMPTON HIGH

Three-sport star at Compton High knocked out teammate Pete Rozelle's teeth in basketball practice.

Pete Rozelle

COMPTON HIGH

As student journalist, future NFL p.r. man turned commish helped Snider get big pub for a no-hitter.

Tayshaun Prince

EAST BENNETT STREET

Dominguez High teammate of Tyson Chandler's in '97--98; mom Diane still lives in his childhood home.

Dennis Johnson

BURRIS AVENUE

Five-time NBA All-Star rode the pine at Dominguez High, then got game in San Pedro summer league.

Tyson Chandler

DOMINGUEZ HIGH

As freshman made daily 132mile round trip from San Bernardino before moving to nearby Buena Park.

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