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November 23, 2014

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Space Washington infuses energy into Sierra Vista basketball with rap song

Former basketball player turned to rap after hurting his ankle last season

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Steve Marcus

Sierra Vista High School junior “Space” Washington, 16, (real name - Jaylen Washington) poses after a basketball game at the school Monday, January 2011. Washington was sidelined from basketball last year after an injury but the time off gave Washington the opportunity to develop his ability as a rapper.

Space Washington

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Space Washington-Blue & Yellow

The Sierra Vista basketball team exits the locker room in a state of absolute calm.

The Mountain Lions silently shuffle into a line in a hallway to the side of their gym's bleachers and wait. When the first beat echoes over the speakers, the players soar onto the court and leave their relaxed demeanor behind.

The song playing isn't one heard at sporting events across the country. It's Sierra Vista's own, a rap about the Mountain Lions entitled "Blue & Yellow" by 16-year old junior Jaylen "Space" Washington.

"Every time we come out to that, it lets us know who we are," Sierra Vista senior guard Viko Noma'aea said. "Listening to it gets us more hyped and gets us into the game."

That was Washington's mission when he decided to write and record the number a few weeks before the season began.

Washington believed his friends and former teammates had a chance to put together the best season in school history and needed a modern-day fight song to go along with it.

"I had to do it because the school shows me love," Washington said. "Everybody knew I rapped and listens to my music, so I had to do 'Blue & Yellow' for them."

Washington wishes he could be on the floor and playing alongside Noma'aea and the rest of the team. He considers basketball his first love and played on the freshman and junior-varsity teams the last two years.

But a gruesome injury before a game against Western last year put a halt in his hoops career. Washington went up for a dunk during a pregame shootaround, but didn't get off of the ground before severely breaking his ankle.

It immediately produced egg-sized swelling and required surgery to insert screws. Doctors told Washington he couldn't play basketball for a year.

"I couldn't even believe it," Washington said. "A year? It was January, so my whole year of 2010 I couldn't play basketball. I was like, 'What am I going to do?'"

He underwent the surgery at the beginning of February and had to miss school for most of the month while recovering.

Washington said it was then that he realized he had a real talent at rapping, something he previously had considered only a hobby.

"I was just so bored," he said. "I was sitting at home all day and had nothing else to do."

Washington started recording songs and posting them on the Internet. He eventually added videos on YouTube that registered thousands of views and joined a local rap label, Hard Tyme Records.

"Blue & Yellow", which uses the instrumental track from Wiz Khalifa's "Black & Yellow", exploded the most. Around 4,000 people listened to the song within a month of Washington releasing it.

Students from at least four other area high schools even made songs mimicking Washington's version for their own teams.

"I haven't heard one yet that comes even close to Space's," Sierra Vista basketball coach Kent Johnson said. "Space's sounds professional. Everyone else sound likes they did it on their laptop."

Washington wants to try to come back and play basketball next season when his ankle is fully recovered. He hopes he can enjoy some of the excitement surrounding the Mountain Lions that his song helped create.

"No one really cared about this school, but now there's school spirit," Washington said. "Everyone talks about wearing blue at this game, yellow at this game, white at this game. It upped the ante on that."

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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