ROANOKE, Va. – For North Cross senior Zae Baines, basketball was his first love, until he met assistant coach Shannon Taylor.
"I never wanted to play football in high school but it kind of happened once I got here," said Baines.
Taylor is a former University of Virginia linebacker who also spent four years in the NFL. He's now an assistant at North Cross and has known Baines since he was 9 years old. So when things got hard for the young athlete, Taylor decided to become his legal guardian, helping him perfect his craft and more.
"I just felt really good about the situation. It hasn't always been easy we've bumped heads from time to time and it's worked out and is just a blessing," Taylor said.
"I was just thinking, yeah, he been in the NFL but OK I'm trying to play basketball so it was kind of like that. He was just telling me man, don't put all your eggs in one basket," Baines said.
"He quickly found out and the whole area found out he was a big time basketball player in addition to being a good football player," said North Cross head coach Stephen Alexander.
What the team got was a freshman who snagged eight interceptions and who also solidified his role at wide receiver.
The 6-foot-3 athlete would continue to excel...garnering the attention of nearly a dozen division one colleges. In the end he verbally committed to Temple University. With God-given talent and the right people helping guide him in life, Baines has been helped to see that his best shot in life...can even come in the form of a catch.