• Young men like Kitam Hamm are such a rare find these days. Here is a kid who, despite the odds stacked against him, is determined to fight and succeed. He is proof that there is no stopping anyone who puts his mind to accomplishing his goals in life. Kitam's parents deserve continued praise for keeping him on the right path.

Jason Herrera, Azusa, Calif.

Your article on Kitam (Straight Outta Compton, Dec. 5) is an inspiration and should be given to every parent living in gang-infested communities. Mr. and Mrs. Hamm are examples of parents who get involved and refuse to let their children give in to the pressures of gangs and other negative influences.

Richard Shilling

Stevenson Ranch, Calif.

I am a junior at a private high school in New York City. I have no affiliation with gang violence and have no reason to fear it in my community. Nevertheless, your article struck a chord with me. Until now I've coasted through life, putting minimal effort into school. After reading about Kitam's difficult journey, I realized that not to put forth a maximum effort is a waste.

Harrison Scheiner, Bronx, N.Y.

Your article reminded me of just how much some of us take for granted. I could not imagine my kids having to wake up every day and worry about what clothes to wear to school because their lives depended on it. Hats off to the Hamm family for the way in which they have persevered in spite of the unthinkable circumstances in their neighborhood.

Jesse Johnson

Texhoma, Okla.

Big Shots

I can't believe there was no mention of Illinois guard Cory Bradford in your article about the three-point shot in college basketball (Trey Magnifique, Dec. 5). Bradford holds the NCAA record for consecutive games with at least one three-point field goal made (88), a streak that hasn't been broken in 10 years.

Jordan Coleman, Mattoon, Ill.

I think the worst thing to happen to basketball was the creation of the three-point shot. It's made teaching the fundamentals of shooting harder at every level. As a basketball coach, I've seen kids who can't even make a layup heave the ball from behind the arc. Most are too small to shoot from that range, so they end up flinging the ball like a football, making that bad form the foundation for their shot down the road. It's really a shame.

Jake Jacobson

Southaven, Miss.

True Value

While I agree with Justin Verlander when he says that the term MVP should not mean the best player on a team (SCORECARD, Dec. 5), I disagree with his belief that the MVP award should go to someone from a winning team. That may work with everyday players, but when considering a starting pitcher for the award, voters should evaluate the team's winning percentage when their starter is in the game versus its winning percentage when he's not. If the guy is getting his team wins when he's on the mound, that's all that matters.

Fredrick Vars, Birmingham

Talking Head

I can't say I was surprised to see that NFL players voted Jon Gruden their favorite on-air commentator (SCORECARD, Dec. 5). Gruden comes across as a guy who is a fan of all of the players, and he is rarely critical when assessing the play of the guys on the field. When I watch football, I want someone calling the games who is honest and isn't afraid to call out a guy. Gruden, although very knowledgeable about football, always seems to be holding back instead of giving a legitimate critique.

David R. Mumme

Fort Myers, Fla.

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Eagle (-2)
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