Hard knocks shaped Joe '9 Lives' Neal

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Hard knocks shaped Joe '9 Lives' Neal

The life of any athlete is filled with hardships, sacrifices and glory. For mixed martial arts fighter, Joe ‘9 Lives’ Neal, that was a part of growing up.

Raised in the heart of Richmond, Neal never knew what stability was. At the age of 9 he, along with his two brothers and mother, were evicted from the only home they had known. Neal and his brothers were sent to live with his grandmother while their own mother left.

“That was my last time saying goodbye to my mom, goodbye I love you. She just kept walking. We stayed.” That stay with their grandmother was short-lived, as the boys were taken away a few weeks later. “My grandmother couldn’t take care of us too long either because she was also on drugs, so it was only about 2 weeks with her, then all of a sudden the police came brought me and my brothers to foster care.”

For years Neal moved from foster home to foster home, never hearing from his mother. It wasn’t until he was in middle school that Neal finally heard news about his mom, but it wasn’t good.

After not seeing his mother for almost four years, Neal’s first time hearing about her is finding out that she had died. Losing his mother and not feeling wanted fueled an angry teenager, but when he reached high school a change started to occur.

“I started playing sports, football and basketball.” Finding sports wasn’t the only change for Neal. What he found helped him reach something new and led to a larger change. “I finally found a foster family that was about love, about god and that believed in me told me soon as I got there, doesn’t matter what you say what you go through, we’re not letting you go nowhere”

With a new family, new goals and a new life, Neal was earning the nickname ‘9 Lives’. He turned his passion for sports to MMA and climbed the ranks to become one of the top amateurs in California. Finishing his amateur career with a spotless 9-0 record, Neal is looking forward to becoming a professional and showing that even the most difficult upbringing can be the foundation for success.

“I look at it and I say it was hard but it was a great experience because I learned so much from it and grew so much from it, and that’s what made the person I am today.”

Nitesh Dutt is a Productions Assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt

Kings' Labissiere returns to Haiti, reconnects with man who helped save him

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AP

Kings' Labissiere returns to Haiti, reconnects with man who helped save him

Kings sophomore forward Skal Labissiere returned to Haiti for the first time since 2010 on Wednesday. 

One day later, he reunited with the man who helped save his life. Labissiere was trapped under rubble in a 2010 earthquake. The man and Skal's father searched through debris before finding the talented hooper. 

Labissiere is back in his native country to host a basketball camp from July 19-21. In his rookie year, Labissiere averaged 8.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in 18.5 minutes per game.

The Kings selected Labissiere out of Kentucky with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

 

Conor McGregor works out in throwback Warriors J-Rich jersey

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YouTube

Conor McGregor works out in throwback Warriors J-Rich jersey

Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather are set to square off in the ring on Aug. 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for one of the biggest fights of all time.

To get ready for one of the most hyped up sporting events in years, McGregor needed a little motivation from the 'We Believe' Warriors to come out victorious in an upset.

In a YouTube video showing the highlights of McGregor during his world tour promoting the fight with Mayweather, McGregor rocked a throwback Jason Richardson Warriors jersey. You can see McGregor in the jersey at the 45-seconds mark.

Richardson averaged 18.3 points and 5.4 rebounds over six seasons with the Warriors. 

McGregor (21-3 in the UFC) is looking to give Mayweather (49-0) the first loss of his career.