Top Player Finds His Way -- Renton's Bogan Goes From Trouble To Achievement


Numerous medals and trophies chronical the athletic achievements, but Curtis Bogan Sr. takes more pride in his son's inner triumphs.

If not for a dramatic change of ways a few years ago, Curtis Bogan Jr. might not be where he is today - literally.

Curtis Jr. went from wild on the streets to wow on the football field at Renton High School, where he also starred in basketball and track. Capping an outstanding senior year, he is the 1991-92 Seattle Times male athlete of the year for the South End.

But while every bit the proud papa when it comes to Curtis Jr.'s athletic accolades, his father is most satisfied with the good citizen he has become.

"When I was a kid, I knew one kid who died from cancer," Curtis Sr. said. "Curtis (Jr.) knows six kids who are dead he knew growing up and they've all been from violent deaths.

"I'm just happy he turned out the way he is. I'm more proud of that than what happens athletically. He turned into a good person. A lot of athletes turn out to be jerks. Curtis is a great athlete and a great kid."

Curtis Jr. was one of two players in the state selected to the 1991 Parade All-America football team and he later accepted a full-ride scholarship to the University of Washington as a linebacker. At 6 feet 5 and 210 pounds, he was a force in basketball when healthy, too. And he capped his high-school career by winning the 300-meter hurdles at the Class AA state track and field meet,

despite a painful groin injury.

But Curtis Jr.'s true measure might have been the gesture of giving his first-place medal to Kennedy senior Jamar Williams, his close friend who was leading the race before hitting the fourth hurdle and taking a nasty fall. Williams was in the training room for treatment on his injured shoulder when Bogan tried to give him his medal. Williams refused, but appreciated the thought.

"For Curtis to be the athlete he is and the person he is and offer me his medal, I was touched," Williams said.

Since he refused to take it, Curtis Jr. eventually gave it to Jamar's sister to give to him.

"Deep in my heart, I knew I didn't win (the race)," Curtis Jr. said. "The true champion fell."

Back in his elementary school days, when he lived in Seattle with his mother, Curtis Jr. more likely would have beaten somebody up and taken a medal.

"I was real bad," he said. "If I would have stayed where I was, I probably would have wound up selling drugs and gang-banging. I was on the road, fighting all the time. I couldn't go anywhere without getting in trouble."

His mother and father divorced when he was 2. When he was 5, his 7-year-old brother was hit by a drunken driver and killed, which Curtis Jr. admits probably caused some of his rebellious behavior, in addition to his unstable home (he attended 10 different schools before the eighth grade). Finally, he agreed to live in Renton with his strict father, who had rules Curtis Jr. had never heard about.

"It was my choice," Curtis Jr. said. "I asked myself, `Do I want to go on this way and live til I'm 25 or do I want to do something with my life?' "

He and his father weathered some early storms and have grown extremely close, now enjoying what Curtis Jr. calls an "older brother/younger brother" relationship. Curtis Sr. has been an assistant football coach at Renton the past three years.

Curtis Jr. evolved into one of the most popular students at Renton High School.

"I don't know anyone who doesn't like him," said Brei Abercrombie, a fellow Renton senior. "He's very nice. He makes everyone here feel at home."

Curtis Jr. is eager to make his new home at the University of Washington.

"It'll be like the all-star game every day," he said. "Everybody's battling for positions. All my awards don't amount to some of the ones they've got. A lot of egos are going to be shattered, but I think I'm ready."

As for the all-state game later this month, Curtis Jr. said he would play if his pulled muscle had healed. Otherwise, he'll pass. His biggest disappointment this year was the football team's failure to make it to the state playoffs after reaching the quarterfinals the two previous years.

"I would have given up my state championship in track just to have the team excel in football," Curtis Jr. said.

But then, in a way, he graciously already has. ---------------------------------


High school: Renton. Height: 6 feet 5. Year: Senior. Sports: Football, basketball, track. Honors/highlights: Selected to 1991 Parade All-America football team; two-time Seamount League defensive lineman of the year; won 300-meter hurdles in 1992 Class AA state track and field meet; named one of top-12 seniors in Renton School District. Personal: One of the most well-liked students at Renton. . . . Has a very close relationship with his father, Curtis Bogan Sr., who helped turn his life around. College: University of Washington (football).