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Tray Woodall: ‘My sister and I had to sell drugs. ... I was in fifth grade.’


Pitt has had a disappointing season to say the least.

The Panthers entered the season with hopes of competing for the Big East title, but thanks to an injury to Tray Woodall, Jamie Dixon’s club has collapsed. They lost eight straight without Woodall earlier in the season, and while it looked like they turned a corner when Woodall returned to the lineup a month ago, Woodall’s hit just 12-43 from the field during a recent four game losing streak that has cemented Pitt’s destiny as an NIT team at best.

Woodall’s struggles, however, shouldn’t affect how Pitt fans feel about him. Woodall’s story isn’t necessarily unique, but it is incredible:

When the first of the month arrived, Tray Woodall and his older sister, Shataya, often would not see their mother for a couple weeks.

Theresa Ratliff had not been the same since the father of her children left them to raise another family in Brooklyn. Once her Electronic Benefit Transfer card had been restocked each month, she’d disappear back into her life of alcohol and drug addiction. That left 12-year-old Tray and 15-year-old Shataya, who had a 1-year-old daughter, Danajha, to take care of themselves.

In their Crown Heights neighborhood, they had one choice.

“Me and my sister had to sell drugs,” Woodall says. “What other outlet did I have? I couldn’t get a regular job. I was in fifth grade.”

That’s just one of a number of surreal anecdotes from Brady McCollough’s terrific profile of Woodall that ran in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday.

Another one? Woodall was born in New York City, but he moved to northern New Jersey prior to high school he ended up playing at St. Anthony’s -- the high school featured in the documentary “The Street Stops Here” while Woodall attended -- and during his time there his mother showed up to a game drunk and wandered on the floor.

But enough of what I have to say. Go read the profile. You won’t regret it. And even West Virginia fans will start rooting for this kid to succeed.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.