Randy Devers, 47, basketball league player

March 04, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Randy Devers' admirers still marvel at the game about five years ago in which he scored 60 points in a rec league at the Cloverdale basketball courts. He hit every shot that night during his team's 65-61 victory.

"He had all of the points, but he didn't have any -- not one -- assist. That never was part of his game," joked Carl Dubois of Baltimore, a longtime friend and basketball partner. "Every time he got his hands on the ball," he made a shot.

Mr. Devers, 47, a local legend in Baltimore playground basketball for more than three decades, died Saturday of heart failure at his West Baltimore home.

Mr. Devers, who lived in the Sandtown-Winchester community, played in leagues at Druid Hill Park, at the court under the "Dome" on Chase Street in East Baltimore and for several teams in the city's public housing developments, in addition to the league at Cloverdale.

But he made his mark mostly in pickup games. Although only slightly taller than 6 feet, Mr. Devers was a tough rebounder and good leaper who regularly displayed spectacular dunks over opponents several inches taller.

"He was super quick and had no fear," said Anthony "Speck" Washington of Baltimore, who played with and against Mr. Devers for many years.

"He'd come at you, do some little head and shoulder [fake], and just start rising up and up. The next thing you know everybody is laughing at you while Randy's running down the court."

Although Mr. Devers worked as a liquor store cashier and at a dry cleaning shop, he played basketball several times a week until recently -- and as many as five times a week during warmer months.

"Out on the court he looked more agile and more fit than the teen-age boys. He was strong, lean and kept himself in good shape," said William "Will" McFarland, a longtime follower of Mr. Devers' playground career.

A native of Baltimore, Mr. Devers attended Edmondson High School and served in the Army from 1969 to 1971. Upon his discharge, he worked for the city's Recreation and Parks Department.

Friends believed that Mr. Devers had the talent to play big-time college basketball but lost interest in the academic side of high school. He played junior varsity at Edmondson before quitting to work full time.

Friends said Mr. Devers talked the then-Baltimore Bullets into giving him a tryout in the early 1970s. He didn't make the team.

"You could say that he was one of those sad stories of someone who was real good but just didn't want to go through the channels to ever see it as a career," Mr. Washington said.

"A lot of the stuff -- the moves and all -- you see the kids doing on the courts now, he was doing it 20 years ago. In fact, he could still give them young boys a good lesson."

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. tomorrow at the St. Matthews Pentecostal Church, 3112 W. North Ave.

He is survived by his wife, the former Carla Lyles, whom he married in 1979; a son, Andre Devers of Gambrills; and a daughter, Sheila Lyles of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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