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Written by Callie Labrador
Danny is the main character in the novel and is a very likeable twelve year old boy. His passion in life is basketball and he has a prodigious talent for the game, but although his game-playing abilities are impressive his greatest talent is his basketball IQ which is far beyond his years. His talent is partly natural, inherited from his father, Richie, and partly the result of hard work; all of Danny's basketball heroes are exponents of out working their contemporaries and Danny strives to emulate them. Although he likes his team-mates Danny's favorite times are spent alone in his driveway shooting hoops and playing one-on-one against carefully positioned lawn chairs. Danny also lives basketball because it is a bond with his father.
Danny is constantly frustrated by his inability to grow taller and measures himself regularly with little marks in the wall that he keeps hidden behind a poster in his bedroom. Although he makes self-deprecating comments about being short he is both self-conscious and upset about it, especially when being short is what takes travel basketball away from him.
Danny is a very aware boy who instinctively knows that he lives in a less desireable part of Middletown, that he attends a less prestigious school and that his mom cannot afford the new sneakers for him that other kids have, but he has come to terms with this and accepts it as the way things are. He admires and appreciates his mother and would love his parents to reunite, but is realistic enough to understand this is unlikely to happen.
Richie Walker is Danny's father. He was drafted by the GoldenState Warriors and his career was cut short by a car accident that left him badly injured; the accident was always said to be caused by his losing control of the car but the truth is that Richie was an alcoholic who drove drunk. He has spent his life angry and resentful but by re-connecting with his son through basketball he is trying to make a fresh, positive start. Richie is not tactile and communicates through sports analogies and basketball terms. He is a loving father but learning daily how to show it.
Ali is Danny's mother and her life is dedicated to making him happy. She is firm but fair, and despite her anger towards Richie for leaving them tries to encourage Danny to have a relationship with him, although she tries to mitigate his disappointments and avoid getting his hopes up. She is not a big sports fan but realizes its importance in Danny's life and occasionally agrees to learn some basketball terminology. Ali is the backbone of the family and even twelve year old Danny recognizes she is "the strongest one of all of us".
Will is Danny's best friend and although he presents himself as a joker is sensitive enough to try to protect Danny from watching the Vikings travel team run their practice. Will is constantly talking, like a continual commentary on life, and is a comedic observer of situations with brutal truth in his comedy. Will is good at basketball but not as devoted to the sport as Danny.
Ty is Middletown's other basketball prodigy and he and Danny play instinctively together. He is a thoughtful, generous boy whose pleasant nature comes from his mother, not his overbearing father. Ty values friendship as highly as playing on a winning team and is instrumental in creating a winning Warriors team.
Tess is tall, beautiful and smart. She has strong problem solving abilities and seems to have already out a plan into action before anyone else has even thought of a solution. She and Danny have a special friendship and she is gently concerned that he likes her more than any other girls. She has outstanding shopping skills and is a good friend.
Mr Eoss is the type of adult who never has a first name and is always "Mister".He is a bully who thinks his word goes in all situations. Having been the Mayor of Middletown he now believes himself to be Mayor of everything else as well. He is domineering and seems angered by his son's desire to actually enjoy basketball, believing enjoyment to be largely irrelevant. Growing up, he played basketball with Richie and it is apparent he was envious of his talent and success. A thoroughly un-likable man, he does seem to mellow slightly as the novel comes to an end.
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