The rhythmic beat of basketballs bouncing on the concrete court outside his apartment combined with wonderful weather on a summer night in Chapel Hill Monday were too much to keep P.J. Hairston inside.
“I finished my homework,” he said. “I was sitting in the room bored, so I was like, ‘Well, I hear people playing outside all the time.’ I figured one of these nights I’d come out.”
Hairston’s highly scrutinized summer is no secret, especially in and around Chapel Hill. But Monday, he told Daily Tar Heel that he will play this year.
“Yeah, I’ll be on the court,” he said. “I’m not sure how long I’ll have to sit out. I haven’t found out yet, but whatever it is I’m ready for it.”
Hairston was indefinitely suspended by coach Roy Williams August 11, after his third traffic stop in as many months.
Asked how he is coping, Hairston said, “I just have to prepare myself mentally. Just try to keep myself around positive people for the most part, then just having someone in my ear talking to me and giving me advice. But other than that, I’ve just been trying to stay positive.”
At the concrete courts outside Ram Village with the Smith Center towering in the background, Hairston said, “Everybody sees me playing in the Dean Dome. I can just walk right out my door and play ball outside, which is how I grew up playing ball. It’s not bad to reflect on childhood in any kind of way.”
Hairston’s recent issues are no proof that he is even out of childhood but when and if he starts making decisions worthy of an adult, there will be time for childhood reflection.
Maybe this past summer will become part of that past and can eventually be chalked up to childish mistakes. In the meantime, hopefully we will be able to soon welcome P. J. Hairston to adulthood. It is time to grow up.