In an era of specialized high school athletics, it is rare to find an individual who excels in three major sports throughout his prep career. Many times athletes decide early to concentrate on one sport in order to increase their chances for success.
However, at Dorsey High in Los Angeles, junior Lamont Warren has proved to be an exception.
At 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds, Warren is outstanding in football, basketball and track and field.
--As a tailback last fall, he led the Dons to their first City 4-A Division championship and was selected City player of the year. He scored 19 touchdowns. In Dorsey's 26-17 victory over Carson in the 4-A title game, he rushed for 101 yards and caught five passes for 110.
--In basketball, Warren was a key contributor off the bench in averaging seven points and six rebounds a game for a team that reached the 4-A Division semifinals. He was regarded as team's most consistent three-point shooter and one of the Dons' top underclassmen.
--In track, Warren is undefeated in the 400 meters this spring, and his winning time of 47.51 seconds at the Arcadia Invitational on April 7 is a personal best and the second fastest time in the state this season. Gerrald McClattie of Compton Centennial, also a junior, is the leader at 47.44.
"He is the best athlete ever to come to Dorsey that I have seen," said Dorsey football Coach Paul Knox, who has been at the school for more than 10 years. "And that includes some great ones too. Lamont just has the most physical raw skills of any of them.
"I remember when I saw him high jump 6-4 last year and I told someone next to me, 'There's Bo Jackson right there.' "
Warren credits the Baldwin Hills neighborhood where he grew up and his mother, Tina, for the development of his athletic talents.
"I was tall and skinny growing up, and I always played with the older kids in my neighborhood," Warren said. "They would play everything from basketball to street football, and I just joined along with them."
Warren, 17, began playing organized sports in fifth grade when he tried out as a Pop Warner League lineman, but it did not take long for his coaches to move him into the backfield.
It is difficult to determine which sport is Warren's best because of his success in all three. Since his Pop Warner days, Warren has been a standout in football and basketball, and in only one serious year of competition in track and field, he has become one of the nation's best in the 400. However, when asked to name his favorite, Warren does not hesitate.
"In every sport, I just go out there to have fun, but if I had to rate them, it would be football first, then track and then basketball," Warren said. "But if I was 6-5, it would definitely be basketball first."
However, it is in track and field that Warren now has people taking notice. After winning the City B title in the 400 meters and running on the Dons' winning state 1,600-meter relay team last season as a sophomore, Warren has quickly dominated the one-lap race this spring.
In following in the footsteps of former teammate Beno Bryant, last season's state 400-meters champion and City record-holder, Warren has become the leader of the Dons' track team. Based on his winning time at Arcadia, Warren is a threat to break Bryant's year-old record of 46.63.
"He has definitely done better than I had anticipated," Dorsey track Coach Ralph Tilley said. "I had hoped for him to just run under 47-flat at some point this season, but now I think that he's capable of breaking Bryant's record."
Said Warren: "I just recently talked to Beno about that and he just told me to shoot for it, but I just want to help the team win our league and then the City title."
One of Warren's biggest obstacles this spring will be his demanding schedule especially at the City and State meets. He will run the 100 and 400 meters and a leg on the 400 and 1,600-meter relay teams. "He is one of those athletes who can do whatever he wants to do," Tilley said.
"I know that it looks like football will be (Warren's) sport, but the way he keeps improving, he could be a world-class runner."
Along with the adulation he receives from his athletic talents, Warren also is respected off the field, track or court.
"All the kids look up to him for leadership and he handles it well," Knox said of Warren, who has a 3.0 grade-point average.
A special inspiration to Warren has been the death of his close friend Kevin Copeland, who died from heart failure during a football game last October.
"I think about Kevin every day," Warren said. "I know he is there pushing me in everything I do. Whenever I slow down, especially in sports, I think about him. He would want me to go all out and push myself in everything, and that is what I try to do.
"I feel that I'm just a young black kid growing up in this hard society trying to make something of himself and get an education, which is my No. 1 priority."