By Napoleon F. Kingcade
PHOTOS COURTESY: Imhotep Charter
ABOVE PHOTO: Imhotep Charter Panthers stage a championship celebration following their 72-43 victory over the West Philadelphia Speedboys.
On February 25, Justin Edwards was named the Most Valuable Player of the Philadelphia Public League boys championship game, which was held at Temple’s Liacouras Center. The 6-foot-7 senior scored 25 points as he led the team’s offense and made several slam dunks in the championship contest. Edwards then led Imhotep to a 72-43 victory over the West Philadelphia Speedboys as the Panthers captured their third straight Philadelphia Public League title.
Twenty-three years ago on the same court, Edwards’ mother, Ebony Marie Twiggs, was named the Most Valuable Player of the Philadelphia Public League girls championship game after she scored 20 points, ripped down 23 rebounds and delivered five block shots to lead the University City Lady Jaguars to victory over Franklin Learning Center.
Like mother, like son
Justin Edwards and his mother both became great basketball players during their high school careers.
Once Twiggs left University City High School, she continued her basketball career at Cheyney University. After Cheyney, she played basketball overseas in Portugal before suffering an ankle injury. Later on, she gave birth to her daughter and dedicated her life to raising a family, even though she received an offer to play professional basketball for the New York Liberty team in the WNBA. As a mother, Twiggs worked two jobs — Walmart during the day and Einstein Hospital at night.
While raising her family, Twiggs introduced her son to basketball when he was in the second grade. It was her way to keep him out of trouble in school. Edwards was a struggling student who needed something positive to focus on. That is when he fell in love with basketball.
Edwards took the game more seriously once he started playing at Imhotep Charter. He said he thought about quitting basketball after his freshman year, but his mother kept pushing him to play. She simply would not allow him to give up.
“My mother always told me to never quit basketball and always believe in myself,” Edwards said. “That’s why I have learned nobody is going to believe more in you than you believe in yourself. I know my mother sacrificed a lot for me to be able to play basketball. That’s why I’m still playing basketball. This is my way of paying her back. All of this is for her.”
Today, Twiggs works as a critical care technician at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. Meanwhile, her son has been ranked as the number one high school basketball player in the nation by ESPN. After graduation, Edwards is heading to the University of Kentucky, where he will play basketball for Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari. In addition, Edwards will play in this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game. He became the first Public League player in Philadelphia since Rasheed Wallace was chosen as a McDonald’s All-American in 1993. Twiggs proudly held up his McDonald’s All-American jersey during a special ceremony held at his school.
The sky is now the limit for Edwards. Next on his plate is the city title game against Archbishop Ryan. To bring home a city title would be icing on the cake. It would also make his mother happy and proud of his total accomplishments.
Before leaving the Liacouras Center to meet up with his mother, Edwards mentioned a laugh that he had planned to share with his mother.
“My mother won (Public League) championships on this court, but [I’m] past her now,” Edwards said. “She won two championships. But I have won three championships. That makes me better than her. I’m going to joke about that when I see her tonight.”
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