He hails from Aberdeen, stands 6’7″, weighs 275 pounds, led his college basketball team to the NCAA Final Four, was signed out of college to play football in the NFL and now is a professional basketball player holding his own in Israel.
She hails from Joppatowne, stands 5’5″, won’t tell me how much she weighs, admits to occassionally “horsing around” with her neices on the basketball court, formerly covered all manner of sports for the local media and is now holding her own as sports director of The Dagger.
He is Jai Lewis. She is Molly Lauryssens. And at 8 p.m. Wednesday at ESPN Zone in downtown Baltimore’s Inner Harbor the two forces will meet in a head-to-head shoot out when Jai returns to town.
This grudge match has been years in the making. As a local newspaper reporter Molly met and got to know Jai, a graduate of Aberdeen High School, as he led his George Mason Patriots college basketball team on its Cinderella run into the NCAA Final Four.
The rivalry continued as Molly tracked Jai’s post-collegiate career. Thought by some to be a lock in the NBA draft based on his dominance as George Mason’s power forward, Jai instead surprised everyone when he was signed into the NFL in 2006 by the New York Giants as an offensive tackle.
The athlete still couldn’t shake Molly, and even when he returned to the world of professional basketball, signing a deal with KK Bosna for apparently $8,000 a month, Jai was hounded by the unrelenting news hound. From there, Jai went on to play with a French team before signing with Hapoel Galil Elyon, an Israeli team, where he is averaging 12.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals.
When Molly finally tracked Jai down in Israel, through the help of his coach, it didn’t take long before the two competitors were again jockeying for bragging rights and a challenge was issued – a challenge that could only be settled on the basketball court.
Here’s the email chain from Molly and Jai setting up the grudge match:
May 6: The Challenge
Re: what’s up player?
Feast your eyes on this idea…this is a fun one…well, it’d sure as hell be fun for me, probably a few good laughs for you and def. make for a good story. You get home, get settled. Relax, chill. Then Give me a shout.
Because here I go…my best game is, besides talking smack and kicking ass in paintball, is free-throw shooting. That’s right, I got some game on the court too. And I’m pretty sure I can take you in a game of (I think it’s called) Pop-a-shot. They have one at the ESPN Zone downtown at the Inner Harbor although I’ll let you pick the time and place. Don’t let my gender or age fool you, I have a stellar shot. It’s a timed thing, one person gets the rebounds the other shoots away. I can’t run for crap (that’s why I like this game) but I sure can throw free throws and when I’m on, I’m unstoppable, sort of like you!
What do you say? Call me crazy, you won’t be the first or the last. Bring your friends, your girlfriend/wife???, whoever and then we can have a sitdown and talk about your experiences in Israel. Maybe grab a bite if you like. Of course, my treat.
Think about it, laugh about it if you must- but I am so serious. I will not go down quietly. I beat my husband and I usually beat my son (20) at this. They are both pretty decent athletes.
Hit me back player,
May 13: Challenge Accepted
Re: Is this thing on
nope not scared but i will be in aberdeen sometime in june so we can meet up and play…lol
May 13: Reality Sets In
I’ve had to amp up my workouts seeing that it is on.
So, today: 3 mile jog (I should really call it walk), plus 5 mile bike (guessing), plus 10 minutes at the free throw line (I was bank!!!). Yes, I am exhausted. You probably could do all that in like ten minutes.
Reality has kicked in, Gentle Giant, what was I thinking? I was thinking you’d never agree to such a thing. Still, I’m so glad you did. Certainly I’m not trying to back down. NO WAY! And I’m glad to entertain you. Now and then.
lol should now become lmao for you.
Peace out player,
Safe travels…bring back some photos for publication if you can please.
Have some fun while you are there!
May 28: The Setback
Re: In spite of an injury…
I still train and practice. I was playing paintball with 17 other people (five of them were police officers- it was crazy), woodsball- did you ever play? It’s awesome…You ought to check it out.
Anyway, I twisted my ankle. It swelled, it’s black and blue. Nothing a little ice and a wrap can’t cure.
I’m getting in the zone…
Just thought I’d update you on my training and give you a reasoon to lol.
May 29: No Excuses
Re: In spite of an injury…
Hope you make sure that ankle is healthy when its time
May 29: Talking a Good Game
I’ve got a new acronym to make you smile…of course, this one is not to be taken literally.
CMP- crapping my pants, Tee-hee!!! That just cracks me up and every day I wake up I’m one step closer to June and I am in that state b/c I’m taking you to task, Gentle Giant.
YIKES, I’ve COMPLETELY lost my mind now. It’s the email, once I see you in person I will totally freak.
So, I’ve just thought of a new way to ensure that you do NOT take it easy on me when it’s shootout time- you have got to bring it. Don’t take it easy on me b/c I am old(er) and I’m female and blah, blah.
My husband is the gm of a wholesale seafood company in Jessup. Suffice it to say, he gets some awesome seafood… so do you like some nice big fat jumbo shrimps? These guys are whoppers, man. Swear, you’ve probably never seen them this big. So, you win, I give you some courtesy Margaret Lauryssens, LLC. (That’s my business name.) I win…well, I’ve already got my eye on the prize. I get to write about it!!! Woohoo. Power to the people.
It is on.
May 29: Bring It
I hope you bring all this trash talk to the game, it will make your defeat better. Did you know tiger shrimp is my favorite
There’s a lot at stake here: Jai’s pride, Molly’s self-esteem, The Dagger’s honor, the spirit of the international sports world as we know it.
Who will be victorious? Who will end up crumpled on the floor of a Baltimore sports bar sobbing uncontrollably in defeat? Swing by ESPN Zone in Baltimore Wednesday night…or stay tuned to The Dagger.
Bill Pigott says
I say Molly gets “jobbed” by the refs and Jai hurts his leg and gets carried off by his teammates… only to return later in the quarter and win the game.
Better yet, Jai will be in a wheelchair, and come back in the same quarter!
Who needs height when you’ve got heart? My money’s on Molly!
Jim O says
My $$$ is on the Joppatown girl.
SHE HAS MAD SKILZ.
Is the national media going to cover this event?
MOLLY SMOKES JAI. SHE WIIL SHOOT 90 PERCENT
WE NEED VIDIO GOOD LUCK MOLLY
Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, least of all not my good friend Molly, but we are talking about a professional basketball player here.
Jai gets paid to shoot a basketball through a hoop all day, every day and, from what I hear, he’s pretty good at it.
Which brings up a good point: What should the ground rules be for this shoot-out? And what sort of equipment do they have at ESPN Zone?
Training his entire life on a pro-sized rim and basket, Jai could be handicapped by a less than regulation style set up – which would favor Molly, who evidently has done most of her training on a kitchen Nerf hoop.
Then again, Jai might be able to just reach out and drop each ball through the hoop ala those basketball games found on the boardwalk in Ocean City.
Handicaps are for golf…This is a straight up shootout. If I talk the talk, I gotta walk the walk and that’s what I plan to do.
ESPN has a small version of a half-size court as well as standard arcade games, hopefully Jai will do both with me.
By the way, Jai likes being the underdog, that’s how he brings his A-game.
Our Gentle Giant and class act from Aberdeen who favors Shirley Temple is now in Japan. I’ll bet he’s living his dream, shooting some hoops.
Jai is now in the Philippines playing for the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. He was highly recommended by fellow Patriot Gabe Norwood (who also plays here).