He wanted to mentor middle school kids in the blighted neighborhood, to keep them from going down the wrong path."I wanted to show them that your heart is bigger than what you think it is." But it seemed he wouldn't live to see the season.Doctors gave the Lester Middle School head coach 24 to 48 hours to live. Larry Peoples -- "a prayer warrior" -- stood at his bedside and bowed his head. Merriweather had returned to his old neighborhood -- gang-infested Binghampton -- to coach basketball.
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A man who grew up without one, who'd come to serve as a surrogate dad to a dozen boys, watched in awe.
Hardaway, now 40, made more than $120 million in a pro basketball career that spanned 16 seasons.
Merriweather recovered enough to return to his team that season.
But as the next season got under way, the chemo drained him of strength. "I didn't want to brag or anything, but I knew we had a good team," Merriweather says.
Merriweather, now 38, doesn't know quite how to explain what happened.