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Heat says Beasley shows extraordinary maturity

Michael Beasley watched from a courtside seat at a Kansas State women's basketball game when an usher told a boy to move from the aisle and find a seat.

Blade Winter, 11, looked around at a packed Bramlage Coliseum. It had already been a long day for the boy. He had spent the afternoon having physical therapy for the many hip surgeries he has endured after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Just as Blade realized he would have to climb the steep bleachers to sit with his parents, he heard someone call out.

"He's with me," Beasley told the usher.

The boy slipped under the gate surrounding the court and sat next to Beasley the rest of the game.

"I just couldn't believe it," Blade, who lives in Clifton, Kan., said by phone Thursday night after he watched the broadcast of the NBA Draft, in which his hero was selected No. 2 overall by the Heat. "I thanked him, like, 50 times."

Only later did Beasley learn that Blade is a cancer survivor. Beasley gave him a signed T-shirt that reads, "Bring on the 'Cats." Blade keeps it draped over the couch. When he was hospitalized with pneumonia during the Big 12 Tournament, he got a get-well card signed by Beasley and his teammates.

That is the character the Heat saw when it decided to draft Beasley. Miami overlooked the fact he attended six high schools and was kicked out of Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for tagging his name, as part of a prank, on the headmaster's car.

Beasley won over the Heat after spending a day with Miami's brain trust.

"I think the speculation that was out there was overstated," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We spent the last five or six weeks researching that, and he's a delightful young man, he really is."

The Heat did have to consider red flags.

After all, Beasley didn't merely attend high school, he toured the country: National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Md.; Laurinburg (N.C.) Institute; Florida's IMG Academy in Bradenton; Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Md.; Oak Hill Academy; and Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass.

In his year at Kansas State, he was the team joker, not a troublemaker.

Once, he filled teammate Ron Anderson's shoes with toothpaste. But he said his new teammates shouldn't expect anything like that.

"Not this year," he said. "Maybe the following year. I'm coming in as a rookie, so I expect a hard time. I'm going to pretty much hang the prankster crown up."

The Heat expressed little concern his attitude would be a problem.

"He is 19 years old, let's not forget that," Spoelstra said. "So, certainly, at times, he will act his age. But in terms of competitiveness on the court, there's no mistaking that he's mature beyond his years. Off the court, he's just a very fun-loving guy. There's really nothing more to it."

He expects to resist the temptations of South Beach. His family won't follow him to South Florida, but he will live with Bruce Shingler, a former Kansas State administrative assistant who "is like a brother to me," Beasley said.

Shingler has been hired to help Beasley adjust to his new millionaire lifestyle.

"Obviously, there's a lot of stuff that I could fall into," Beasley said. "But I feel I've matured over the last couple years, and I'm going to continue to mature, and I'm just going to live my life." 

 

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