Columbus, Ohio is best known for being the home of “THE” Ohio State University. To those who don’t know much about the capital city of Ohio, it’s nothing more than a football-driven town with a lot of cows. While Columbus is a great football city with a lot of major attractions, it’s also home to some tremendous basketball talent. From Michael Redd to Jared Sullinger and Trey Burke, the basketball talent runs deep.
Like many cities across the United States, there are some hoopers who did not have the luxury to take their talents to top-flight Division 1 basketball programs or even the NBA. New York has Lenny Cooke and Earl “The Goat” Manigault, Chicago has Ronnie Fields, and Columbus has Estaban Weaver.
Despite not making it to the “big leagues,” legendary status is attainable, and that has never been more true than in regard to Estaban Weaver.
Growing up in Columbus, it was cool to want to “Be Like Mike,” but many young hoopers in Ohio aspired to “Be Like Esty.” Before LeBron James mania hit the state of Ohio, Weaver’s mercurial rise in Ohio high school basketball was legendary.
How good was Estaban?
As a freshman at Bishop Hartley High School, he averaged 25 points per game and was named First-Team All-Ohio. His sophomore campaign was just as impressive, averaging 26 points per game and named First-Team All-Ohio for his second year in a row. During that time, he was regarded as one of the best — if not the best — players in the country.
In his junior campaign, he transferred to Maine Central Institute, where he was kicked off the team. As a senior, he moved back to Columbus and enrolled into Independence High School, teaming up with 1997 McDonald’s All-American MVP Kenny Gregory, who beat out Tracy McGrady, Baron Davis and Lamar Odom for the award. The duo of Gregory and Weaver was must-see TV. Though Gregory wound up playing for Roy Williams at Kansas, Weaver was the more complete player.
After missing out on the McDonald’s All-American Game, Division 1 offers and NBA riches, Weaver had stints at Central State University and Tallahassee Junior College. He did play in professional basketball leagues in the states and, of course, thrived, but I’m sad to say it was on a lesser scale. Unlike most legends, Weaver’s basketball voyage wasn’t broadcast for the world to see.
Fast-forward almost 20 years, and Weaver is still a folk hero in the state of Ohio. His name still resonates in the world of basketball, and his mishaps, success stories and life itself have been told by many. Some claims are true, some false, but despite of what’s been said, Weaver is featured in a new movie, “Who Is Estaban?” where HE can finally tell his story to the masses.
TSFJ had the chance to speak with former No.1 high school basketball player in the country about his film, his early rise to fame, as well as struggles on and off the court.
TSFJ: For those who may not know your story, what would you tell them about yourself?
Weaver: I’m Estaban Weaver, a skinny kid from Columbus, Ohio, who had dreams of making it big, but some wrong turns and bad decisions stopped all of that.
TSFJ: There is a story about how you and former fellow high school sensation Schea Cotton went head to head at camp for the top spot in your respective class. How was that experience?
Weaver: Well, me and Schea never battled for the top spot because I was already crowned No. 1 at the Nike Camp. So when we would battle on the West coast, it was No. 1 vs. No. 2.
TSFJ: Why is now the right time to come out with a movie?
Weaver: I just felt it was the right time to tell my story.
TSFJ: Who were some of the best players you played against, and what made it challenging to play against them?
Weaver: Louis Prater and Ike Jefferson (Hampton University). Prater was like looking in the mirror. He did almost everything I did. With Ike, he was just a bull. He was nice with the ball and was a good defender. Also playing against guys such as Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, Ron Mercer, Dion Glover, Ron Artest and Antoine Walker also presented a tough challenge.
TSFJ: What are your top three all-time memories from your days as a player?
Weaver: Being selected to the Nike Camp twice while in high school and playing AAU ball. In AAU ball, I dominated a lot of the guys who starred in the NBA.
TSFJ: Fellow Columbus natives Trey Burke and Jared Sullinger are featured in your film. How does it feel to know you had such an impact on them?
Weaver: It feels great to know that you have the support of the future behind you. To know that they used to watch my highlights before their games to get hyped was a blessing to hear.
TSFJ: Who would win in a game between the 1997 Independence 76ers vs. 2003 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s? What would the final score be? And, what would you be better at than LeBron?
Weaver: WOW, that’s a tough one, but we would get them by 5 or better. I know that LeBron wouldn’t be out there doing whatever he wanted. It would have been real hard for that kid.
TSFJ: How do you think being a teen sensation helped or hindered you?
Weaver: It helped because of the girls! Smh, but it hindered me by turning the people around me into “yes men,” which changed my attitude toward them.
TSFJ: Growing up, I remember watching you at the Worthington League (Summer Pro-Am league). Can you tell me some of your most memorable moments?
Weaver: I would say scoring 52 and 55 points against some of former Ohio State players and also dunking on Jimmy Jackson and Dennis Hopson when I was a teenager.
TSFJ: As a 38-year-old who has experienced so much on and off the court, what advice would you have for the 17-year-old version of yourself?
Weaver: I would say stay in school, listen to your parents and stay out the streets. It’s also important to stay away from the wrong crowd.
TSFJ: How can people not living in Columbus get a chance to check out your movie?
Weaver: “Who Is Estaban” goes on sale March 14, online on at www.homage.com.
TSFJ: What is Estaban Weaver up to now? How can people keep up with your journey?
Weaver: Working, speaking and training kids. I have a passion for spreading knowledge to the youth to give them the guidance that I didn’t have. To keep up with my journey, follow me on Facebook, Twitter (listed below) and my Instgram @EstabanWeaver
TSFJ would like to thank Estaban Wever for the interview, and encourage you to check out his film.
The film “Who is Estaban,” directed by Mike Raine and Ryan Conley, will show in Columbus, Ohio, at the Gateway Film Center March 12, 2016. For additional information on the film, follow Estaban’s Facebook page, or follow his Twitter page @EstabanWeaver. The film’s online premiere launches March 14, 2016, at www.homage.com. To learn more about the film, check out the trailer below.
Columbus, Ohio born. Ron is a first-ballot healthy hairline hall of famer. He spent the summer of ‘08 eating calamari pasta because of OJ Da Juiceman. He also loves to write about sports while listening to Sada Baby. Follow him on Twitter @Ron_Hamp