The talent was obvious.
The behavior, though, was toxic.
Even the player recognizes that now.
Miracle Alford-Lewis acknowledged he had a really bad attitude his freshman year, and then he got even worse as a sophomore and junior.
Which makes his senior year at Fort Vancouver so much more special.
Miracle Alford-Lewis became a changed man.
“Everything just started clicking for me,” he said.
Family, friends, teammates, and coaches all have witnessed that change, too. He has become a success story regardless of how the Fort Vancouver basketball team fares this year.
Of course, the Trappers are winning, too.
To really appreciate this basketball season, though, Alford-Lewis and his coach recalled just much progress has been made.
“Freshman year, I had a bad attitude. I always thought I was the best and shouldn’t have to listen to anyone,” Alford-Lewis said. “If someone tried to critique anything about me, I’d rebel.”
Fort Vancouver coach James Ensley said basketball-wise, Alford-Lewis was good. But he was “uncoachable.”
“Sophomore year,” Alford-Lewis explained, “kind of the same. People would tell me I had an attitude, I didn’t care.”
Ensley described him as “self-centered.”
“My junior year was the worst,” Alford-Lewis said. “People I hung around had an effect on my attitude.”
Ensley said Alford-Lewis was someone who was going to do it his way and “it’s how it’s going to be.”
At the time, there was no indication that things would change. As a high school coach and educator, Ensley knows he cannot give up on any one player, student. Still, Alford-Lewis was testing everyone’s patience.
But his grandmother got through to him. A close friend connected. His teammates, especially Kyron Lowe-Ash, made an impact.
“They wanted me on board,” Alford-Lewis said. “When my attitude was bad, I was bad all-around. I really didn’t see it as much as they did.”
He had come to a decision.
“I started to change right after (junior) basketball season. I changed the people I hung around,” Alford-Lewis said.
This change had so much more to do than just sports.
“At school, at home, everywhere,” Alford-Lewis said. “My respect level for adults is a lot better than what it was.”
He also wants to go to college, study business.
“I never thought of college two, three years ago,” he said.
All this change was kind of a shock to the Fort Vancouver basketball system. Ensley acknowledged that at first, he didn’t want to say anything, for fear of jinxing it.
“I thought he was just messing with me,” Ensley says now, with a smile.
Months later, though, Alford-Lewis has kept true to this change. And it is noticeable. Alford-Lewis is a team captain.
“His attitude and his whole outlook on life and what basketball means to him …” Ensley said. “We talked a bunch about that. He’s doing all the things needed to do for our team to be successful.
“He’s a joy to be around.”
Alford-Lewis was told of those words and took a moment to compose his thoughts.
“It feels really good,” he said. “I was becoming the person Ensley always thought I could be.”
He is a better teammate now, plus he is able to use his experience to talk to freshmen at Fort Vancouver, to let them know that whatever troubles they might have, a positive attitude will improve one’s status.
The Trappers also are providing a lift to the student body with their play. Fort Vancouver has opened the season 5-1, including a victory over in-district rival Skyview.
“When we walk in the hallways, win or lose, they’re giving us high-fives, telling us ‘Good job.’ That doesn’t happen in football,” said Alford-Lewis, who also played football for the Trappers.
Fort Vancouver starts five guards. Just go out and create some chaos for the other team. Alford-Lewis said he and his teammates love the fact that their coach trusts them enough to go with a non-traditional lineup.
“It’s fun, honestly. We kind of know our potential, but we really don’t,” Alford-Lewis said. “We’re not really a winning sports school. I want to prove we are and we can change what it’s been like.”
Miracle Alford-Lewis knows all about making positive changes.
It is never too late to change, too.