B-ball star two-steps his way to success

There seems to be some sort of friendly competition among the men's basketball team at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Shane Bannarbie seems to think that “everyone from Texas got game.” Can this be true? It seems to work for senior guard Ed Kirk, who hails from East Dallas. But is this “just because you're from Texas makes you an amazing athlete” theory really the cause of what got All-American candidate Kirk where he is today? Fellow teammate and Nebraskan Cody Gallatin doesn't seem to think so. And upon closer observation, it seems there's more to the story and to the athlete that many call “Prep.”

Recently, UAA played in the Great Alaska Shootout, challenging top Division 1 teams across the nation, showcasing the talent of some of the greatest athletes anywhere. UAA forward Kirk rose to the occasion and shined. With 62 points, six steals and 18 assists in three games, Kirk landed himself a spot on the six player All-Tournament Team and was also named as the Player of the Game in the upset against Rhode Island. He was once again commended for his outstanding performance when he was voted Pacific West Conference's Player of the Week. But the greatest part of the whole thing for Kirk? “My family was there,” he said.

Forget the awards, the media and the hype. It's all about family for this 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound basketball star. His mom, dad, two brothers and Aunt Dinah flew up from the states to support him, as they have always done.

While growing up in East Dallas, Kirk started playing basketball at age seven. He said that his family always supported whatever he wanted to do with his life, but one thing was always certain.

"My parents always taught me whatever you start, you finish,” Kirk said.

That seems to be the driving force in his struggle to fight it out to the end. Since arriving in Alaska, Kirk has faced a long series of obstacles. For his first semester at UAA, he was declared academically ineligible. His second year brought a serious jaw injury that left him out of the season. Why didn't he leave? Why didn't he just quit and go back home? “I could have quit, but it wouldn't have been fair to myself, my family or my teammates,” he said.

This mentality brings Kirk to his third and final year of NCAA eligibility. Teammates say he looks stronger and better than ever on court. His leadership presence and overall offensive and defensive ability is well received.

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“Ed's game makes me play better,” said Bannarbie.

You've probably seen Kirk running around campus. A quiet, reserved person doing homework, eating, hanging out with friends and playing video games like every other guy. He is just an easygoing, laid back person ready to succeed in whatever he does in life, blessed to play the game of basketball. He is humble, balanced and a great guy.

What else is there to say? He came up to Alaska and battled through the cold, the snow, the darkness, the injuries and the setbacks and he has prevailed. “He keeps coming back. He wants to finish and he wants to finish strong and I admire that.” Gallatin said.

Bottom line? A Texas boy CAN survive. Ed Kirk continues to prove that.