When Kamau Murray was in high school, he had a hard decision to make on whether he should keep playing basketball, the sport he loved, or pursue tennis, a sport he also had been playing since he was a boy.

At the time, he was on the Whitney Young Magnet High School basketball team that starred Murray’s best friend, Quentin Richardson, who would go on to play in the NBA. But a blunt conversation with his parents about his future prospects, the fact that tennis offered generous college scholarships and the family’s finances put everything into perspective.

They said, “‘You know what, you’re probably not going to be 6-9 like your brother’” — former DePaul forward Malik Murray, Murray recalled. Tennis, they said, “‘might be a good opportunity for you.’”

Murray realized, “I was not going to be successful on that basketball team.

“So I always say tennis chose me.”

The decision to pursue tennis turned out to be crucial to his future.

He went on to play in college and later started the XS Tennis and Education Foundation, which opened a massive indoor tennis facility on the South Side now used by 3,000 kids annually. 

XS Tennis’ goal is to provide a space for kids from underserved communities to play the sport year-round and to go after college tennis scholarships that are often unused or less competitive than sports like football and basketball. The program has sent nearly 50 students to college on Division I tennis scholarships since its inception. 

One of his students, Sloane Stephens, won the 2017 U.S. Open, while Taylor Townsend, played into the fourth round of the 2019 U.S. Open. 

He’s extremely proud of how everything has turned out since he took up tennis. 

“I found a lot of pleasure in helping somebody else achieve their goal,” he says. “ … Getting a kid a scholarship helps me sleep good at night.”

Read more at the Chicago Sun-Times.