Some call him the Lebron James of Simsboro. Those are big shoes to fill for senior Zach Taylor who's led the Tigers’ basketball team to the number 1 seed in Class B.
The high flying dunker was an all-district and all-state honorable mention last season. He is also a tremendous youth leader at his church.
Inside the Simsboro gym on Wednesday, Zach looked across a table filled with trophies, medals and pictures of his accomplishments over the years.
"Compliments, blessings from God because without him it wouldn't be possible," he said.
Simsboro head coach John Brown said, "Right off bat you see his athleticism, he's an athlete. He's one of the best athletes I've ever coached and once you get to know him, he's a lot more than that."
Zach added, "I'm a leader. I'm trying to do anything possible to get a ring this year because we're the number 1 seed. We're just right there, just one step closer to a championship ring."
Leading the team with 21 points and 10 rebounds per game, Zach has the Tigers as the likely favorite to win this year's Class B state championship.
While Zach is currently at the top of his game, the road to get there has been riddled with twists and turns.
"She was like my sister to me. We could talk about stuff, we would go out and stuff and we just was real close."
July 28th, 2008, Zach's mentor Shannon McCarty was killed in a car accident. Zach was just 11 years old.
"It hurt me but at the same time, she's in a better place and I just want to see her again."
Zach’s mother, Ashley Taylor, said, "I knew that he was devastated when he heard the news. I talked to him at that point about death and to let him know that every day of your life is a gift and now he has developed a relationship with the family"
Shannon McCarty’s father, Johnny McCarty, said, "He never lets me down, he's always there for me. Whenever things are going bad, he always comes by to pick me up."
Just as Zach had become fully healed from the pain of Shannon death, in twist of fate, Zach had his own brush with death in a car accident.
Ashley said, "Someone ran a stop sign and they pushed his car over in a ditch. I just said a prayer to God and I said Lord if it's your will, help him to make it through. Zach did not have not one scratch and not one injury."
Adversity, they say, can either build you up or break you down.
It's clear what it's done to Zach. He's helped a father grieve the death of his daughter and he's helped a school have hope. Hope for their first state championship in 40 years.
Coach Brown, said, "We believe we have a good chance to win it this year but even if we don't Zach is going to leave a good legacy because of the kind of kid he is."
Zach added, "I just want to think about Zach Taylor, not just as a basketball player but like, a leader. I just want to leave a legacy of leadership."
Ashley said, "Through it all. God has a plan for Zach. I tell him you just have to keep persevering because God has a plan for you."
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