YPSILANTI, Mich. — Elgin Bates, known as EJ, is here to talk about fear.

Not the scary, hair-raising kind, but the abstract kind. The kind that comes with misunderstanding the present. The kind that comes when you think of the future disappearing. The 44-year-old cocks his head to the side when he says, “People fear things that they’re not knowledgeable about — the unknown.” He grins and adds, “If it’s never been done, it’s automatically negative.”

Bates is slouched on a leather sofa in a side room attached to Ypsi Prep Academy’s home gym. His son, Emoni, is on the other side of the wall, probably doing one of two things: getting up shots or thumbing through his phone. Emoni, 17, is widely considered the best high school basketball player in the world.



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