Erv "Lightning" Leavey
Flint Basketball Legend
May 5, 2021
People often assume that a great athlete was merely gifted with great genetics. The ability to run fast, leap high, extraordinary musculature, height, or power. While those attributes contribute to success, it’s perhaps far less than you might imagine. In fact one ingredient often spells the difference between winning and losing, achieving the pinnacle of a sport, or falling short. That ingredient is resilience.
Erv Leavey had that ingredient.
Although he achieved great success as a state champion in high school at Flint Central, a hugely successful career at Mott Community College, an NCAA Tourney bid at Central Michigan University (where he earned the moniker “Lightning Leavey”), and getting drafted by the NBA Chicago Bulls, it was never an easy route.
In fact Erv might tell you that he failed his way to the top of the sport. You see he was cut from his elementary school team. He was cut from his junior high school team. He was cut from his high school team, and even when he made the squad he was a sixth man coming off of the bench, finally starting in the Michigan Class A State Championship game.
Along the way, he stuck with hit. He never quit trying. He never quit improving. He never quit learning. And that is the very essence of resilience, and strength of purpose. Thats a very hard man to beat.
Erv grew up on the famed St. Johns neighborhood. The unique, multi cultural slice of Americana situated in to a pie shaped area nestled between the massive Buick factory complex and the Flint River, separating St. Johns from the East Side.
When the construction of I-475 led to the razing of the St. John’s hood he transferred to a new school which afforded him a comparable opportunity to assess different neighborhoods and schools. It also instilled a historian’s inquisitive nature in him. That’s why he takes people on tours of the old neighborhood and can explain what it was like to have live in a place the exemplified the melting pot that was America, and how it fit in to the cultural fabric of Flint.
All in all it’s a multi - dimensional journey through the decades, through sport, and culture, history and time. In other words, another great episode of Fish and The Flint Chronicles!