By Scott Stevens
For Weber State University senior Davion Berry, growing up in the Acorn housing projects and surviving the rough streets of West Oakland, Calif., where gangs, drugs and violence run rampant, is an accomplishment in itself. Not too much in life came easy, except basketball.
“There are only three ways to survive in Oakland — the streets, basketball or books,” Berry said.
One of the major positive influences in Berry’s life turned out to be his mother. With Berry’s father out of the picture, his mother worked two jobs in order to provide shelter and food for the family.
When junior high school rolled around, Berry said, his mother’s persistence and hard work helped to get their family out of the violent housing projects and into a less dangerous Oakland neighborhood.
As he transitioned into high school, a move back to the housing projects of West Oakland came along with it and provided Berry with pivotal moments that helped to shape his future. It was during this time that Berry, along with another young aspiring basketball player named Damian Lillard and several other high school friends, formed a pact and give it a name, Certified Fly Guys, which was a promise made to each other and their parents that each of them would stay in school and ultimately earn their college degrees.
As several other high school friends, including Lillard, ended up moving on to four-year universities, Berry was forced to take a different path.
“I always kept a 2.0 (GPA),” Berry said, “but I failed some of my core classes and didn’t qualify coming out of high school.”
As he wasn’t qualified to play basketball at a four-year university, Berry headed to California State University, Monterey Bay for two years to improve his grades and expand on his basketball savvy and skill set.
After college recruiters came calling in high school, and as Berry was studying and playing at CSUMB, WSU was one of the only universities that remained in contact with him throughout the entire process. When the opportunity came knocking to come to WSU, Berry made up his mind.
“Dame (Lillard) was a big reason, along with Coach (Randy) Rahe,” Berry said. “He’s like a father figure to me and brings things out that I didn’t know I had inside of me.”
Rahe said he had nothing but praise for Berry for the time he has spent at WSU. Rahe has repeatedly said Berry is “a special player.”
“I can’t say enough about him,” Rahe said. “He can affect the game in a lot of ways. He is highly skilled. He’s got a great feel for the game. He’s very unselfish. He’ll do whatever it takes to try and win a game. He’s a really good basketball player that’s had an outstanding season.”
Berry’s statistics of 19.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and four assists per game are a vital part of the success the Wildcats have had this season. But Berry said he prefers to focus on the aspects of his game he can still improve on and puts team goals ahead of his personal aspirations.
Berry shied away from taking any credit for the success the Wildcats are having (19-11 overall record, 16-6 conference). He prefers to talk about his team and the familial atmosphere he and his teammates strive to maintain.
“It’s never downplaying anyone; it’s always uplifting,” Berry said. “My teammates are my brothers, and you always have your brothers’ back.”