Before Ja Morant became Memphis Grizzlies star, he was small-town hero

SUMTER, SC — The gentle buzz of Jesse Wilson’s hair clippers is the starting note for the harmonious blend of sounds that make up the Saturday morning rush at Precision Cuts Barbershop.

Hip-hop blares from the radio as warm conversation and laughter fill the air. Hugs and handshakes are exchanged like currency by patrons who have been coming here for decades. Unwritten rules are followed without explanation: no cursing and no reservations — first come, first served. A devoted few rose with the sun to be first in line, waiting in their vehicles at a strip mall in the shadow of the Shaw Air Force Base for the shop to open its doors at 8 am

In the waiting room, muted SportsCenter highlights play with mentions of the NBA Playoffs and the town’s favorite son, Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant — a favorite topic in the shop that’s a local institution. It’s two days before Morant would suffer a knee injury that would put his status in doubt for the remainder of a playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.

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