"If I couldn’t play NBA, I would do sports journalism."
13-year-old Weston Hooten is doing just that.
His childhood dream of becoming a professional athlete came to an end after going through his second ACL tear at age 11.
"I had my second ACL repair in 2016 and I just kind of gave up because I knew I couldn’t play the sport that I love which is football," Hooten said.
Hooten’s mother recalls the difficult time he experienced after the injury. "He had a hard time rehabbing because he felt like football was out of the question and he had a hard time coming back from that. He didn’t feel real motivated," said Debbie Gough, Hooten’s mother.
Slowly, his motivation grew back. A sign from his hospital bed says, ‘Remember that guy that gave up? Neither does anyone else. Never say never. Bigger. Stronger. Faster. 2018.’
Hooten figured out how to stay connected to what he loves most. He started an online sports column called, ‘Kid Sports Reporter’ that gets published on Atascadero Middle School’s web page. Hooten is now the school’s first-ever sports journalist.
"Our mantra is innovation, creativity, and leadership. Weston embodies all those things when you think about what he’s done because he did innovate. He came up with this whole new thing," said Will Wallace, Atascadero Middle School Assistant Principal. "He’s creative because every time he thinks of a story, he’s out there getting the scoop, researching it, and he’s demonstrating leadership because who else is doing this? Nobody."
"It means a lot because I’m the first ever in this school," Hooten said.
A couple of months ago, Hooten hit a journalistic pinnacle. He received an opportunity to interview two-time NBA All-Star and 1999 number one draft pick, Elton Brand. Not only that, Hooten will travel to El Segundo on Monday to interview Daryl Evans, a retired Canadian ice hockey player and current radio color commentator for the Los Angeles Kings.
"I’m so proud of him, more proud of him than he could even imagine because I feel like he’s a living embodiment of when one door closes another door opens," Gough said.
At 13, Hooten is putting his signature in the sports world.
"I end it with, that’s Hootie’s scoop on the hoop,’" Hooten said.