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When Meridian eighth-grader Leon Patterson III needs to bring a little calm and tranquility into his life, he doesn’t do it through deep breathing or meditation – at least not in the way that most people understand those things.

Leon Patterson III
Smart, Determined and Chill

Playing sports brings you peace.

No, Leon finds his bliss on the basketball court. Playing sports “brings you peace,” he says. “It calms you, when you’re playing.” He continues, “When you’re having fun doing your favorite thing, it makes you forget about everything bad that’s going on.” For a relatively young man, Leon has had several years to develop this philosophy. Although he also plays baseball and football, basketball is his favorite sport, and he has been hitting the hardwood since he was in second grade.

Leon exudes a real sense of pride in his school, and he is excited about the recent buzz surrounding Meridian’s basketball program, and about the prospect of playing in the program that produced Roderick Gatewood, Jr. He sees the support that the community extends to the sports programs as one of the Mounds area’s biggest strengths. He is so thankful for this support, in fact, that if he had unlimited power to affect any change he could imagine, he would repay the Mounds community for its support by sprucing things up a bit. He would like to see dilapidated buildings rehabbed, crumbling infrastructure repaired, and new homes and businesses erected, making Mounds outwardly reflect the great qualities that he knows it possesses, but that sometimes aren’t apparent to the outside world.


Fond as he is of Mounds, though, Leon is not adverse to seeing what the wider world has to offer after he graduates high school. He’s still got plenty of time to research colleges and universities, and says that where he ends up will largely depend on which schools come out on top at the end of the process. Still, “it would take a little minute,” he says, to get used to the idea of ranging too far from home.


Though his choice of school is still up in the air, he may be closer to nailing down a potential career path. He has recently become interested in photography, combining this new hobby with his love of athletics by shooting photos and video at sporting events around the area. It’s not hard for him to imagine his photographs and video gracing the websites and social media streams of major sports publications and media outlets in the not-too-distant future.


Leon is quite close to his family, leaning on them for support when he most needs it, such as when a close cousin died last August. Leon took the loss hard, but the tragedy led him to realize that, although he had lost a good friend and beloved family member, family could also help him through it. Spending time with his loved ones helped him to dwell on the lossless, and served to bolster his spirits when he was feeling down. “It made me appreciate my family more,” he relates.


He is fortunate to have a group of good friends, who Leon says would describe him as smart, determined, and “a chill person.” It would seem that they do, indeed, know Leon well. No doubt, going about life in the smart, determined and chill way that Leon does now can only lead to much success in the future.

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