A drunk driver killed Oscar Dais' mom. Two weeks later, a gunshot killed his dad. An 18-year-old from the Melrose projects in a tough South Bronx neighborhood lost his parents just like that in 1978.
But Dais attended Baruch College, drew inspiration from three professors and went on to earn a master's from Fordham. These days, he's living in Pomona, managing musical talent and passing along the value of education to his kids.
One is a first-team all-state receiver and a sprinter/jumper on the rise as a Hackley junior. Penn and Brown have sent letters of interest over Mustafaa Dais' talent in track and field.
Oscar Dais said his own athletic experience mostly consisted of running, "running away from police, running away from gangs." He's one of 13 children and the father of seven, and he's so hoping the Ivy interest in his son turns into Ivy reality.
"For him to go to an Ivy League school emotionally would grab me," the elder Dais said, "because I was the first one in my family out of 13 to go to college. He'd be the first one to go to an Ivy League school from all the generations. That would be a good thing. His children could look at where their father went and they should work hard to reach where their father went or go further."
Mustafaa's favorite sport is football, but he wants to compete in his two sports collegiately. He stood by The Armory track Sunday after the Westchester County Championships, holding his three medals, one for winning the long jump (22 feet, 1/2 inch) and two for finishing No. 2 in the triple jump (school-record 45-10) and high jump (6-2).
"It feels great," he said about his county title. "I want to be a state champ in the long jump."
Hackley coach Dejan Maksimovic said: "He has lots of potential."
New Ro's new sensation: Justin Alleyne has gone from reserve varsity basketball player last winter to county champ. The New Rochelle senior won the 600 in 1:21.5, the state's fifth-best time so far.
"It means everything, coming from basketball and just coming out of track last spring and then all of a sudden be one of the top runners in the state," Alleyne said. "At this point, it's not even about myself. I do it for other people. I do it for my family and my team."
He said he has a full scholarship offer from Iona and a partial offer from Manhattan. But he's going to wait for now.
Suffern's future star: Megan Young, Nanuet's Boston College-bound senior, beat Suffern eighth-grader Kamryn McIntosh by about 3 seconds in the 1,000 at the Rockland meet Sunday. But McIntosh continued to make an impression on her.
"She's amazing, and she's so young," Young said. "She's so mature, too. ... I'm really looking forward to see what she's going to be able to do in the next four years."
Cain update: Bronxville junior Mary Cain is set to run the mile vs. pros at the New Balance Games Saturday at The Armory and compete there vs. collegians and pros in the Millrose Women's Wanamaker Mile Feb. 16. She may challenge the national high school girls indoor record of 4:38.5 set in 1972.