Jim Hubbs (left) and Allen Holbrook (right) are two former Moore High classmates who are working to help former basketball star Manuel Forrest.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Manuel Forrest wasn't certain how he was going to pay his rent on July 1. He's broke. Forrest feared that he would have to move from the room he’s been renting for the last five months.
It's no longer a concern. A former teammate from Moore High School has paid his rent through September.
That’s merely the latest serving of kindness and love Forrest has encountered since his story – “Former Card Manuel Forrest Chasing One More Rebound” linked here – appeared on WDRB TV and WDRB.com June 24. The story outlined Forrest’s difficult journey from McDonald’s all-American to former coach who has been unemployed since he was arrested with drugs last September.
“I was going to take that whole bottle of sleeping pills,” Forrest said. “Thank God, I didn’t.
“Now I’m kind of scared of the future because everything looks bright and I’m getting connected with people again, positive people. This has been overwhelming to go from sad to happy. I can’t believe people are so concerned. I am totally shocked.”
One of the first to call Forrest was Jim Hubbs, the point guard on the powerful basketball teams at Moore in 1980 and 1981. On Monday Forrest met with Hubbs and Allen Holbrook, who graduated from Moore with Forrest in 1981.
Holbrook did not play basketball. He wrestled. Like Forrest, Holbrook attended the University of Louisville, but he and Forrest had only spoken twice in the last 30 years.
Didn’t matter. With the assistance of other classmates, Holbrook created a Friends of Manuel Forrest Facebook page, which already has 173 members. Four leaders of that group gathered for an organizational meeting last Friday. They discussed a social activity, such as a class reunion or cookout, that would benefit Forrest. They are determined to help Forrest find a job. They have also discussed speaking engagements and other ways to help.
“This thing is already building a lot of energy,” Hubbs said. “We’re going to make sure Manuel gets through this in a positive way.
“The best part of this is when we talked about money that didn’t really make Manuel smile. When we talked about people, that made his day. Everybody that’s doing this wants to see Manuel and he wants to see them.”
“It’s what friends do,” Holbrook said. “They help each other. Once his classmates heard about the story, there’s been a big outpouring. ”
Forrest is 51. He played on the 1981 McDonald’s all-American team with Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin. After finishing an 18-season professional career in Argentina, Forrest returned to Louisville, where he has worked a series of jobs.
His last position, one he loved, was assistant basketball coach and teacher’s aide at Rock Creek Academy in Sellersburg, Ind. His four-year stay at Rock Creek ended last September after Louisville police found marijuana and crack cocaine in his car during a traffic stop.
Although two of the charges were later dismissed and a third was reduced to a misdemeanor with the court costs suspended, Forrest has been unable to find paying work for more than nine months. He volunteers at several community centers in Louisville, earning free meals.
His sister had paid his rent over the last five months. But it was only paid until June 30 – until Hubbs stepped in last week.
Forrest said that he has spoken with Rev. Kevin Cosby at St. Stephen’s Church about a potential opportunity. A basketball camp near Sarasota, Fla., has offered to fly him to the Gulf Coast and pay him to work for six weeks this summer.
Former U of L assistant coach Wade Houston and his wife, Alice, have spoken to Hubbs. LaBradford Smith, a former U of L player, has called with a job possibility. Warren Shelton, a former guidance counselor at Moore, is also involved. A vibrant and determined group has started to surround Forrest.
“At Moore, Manuel was such a big part of our class growing up,” Holbrook said. “Everyone has ties to Moore basketball when he was there. Everyone has great memories. Everybody wants to help Manuel make this a comeback story.”