Friday, December 9, 2016
Stephen Saine uncovers a pay-for-play scheme involving his nephew in the book ‘Fragrant Fouls’
The criminal lifestyle that Stephen Saine once knew firsthand could have ended unpleasantly like so many others of the same ilk: They either languish in prison or wind up on a cold slab in the morgue.
Saine was lucky – or blessed, as Christians would say – that he was able to skirt the inevitable consequences of drug dealing and lead a life that is respectable and responsible – that is until he found himself embroiled in a pay-for-play scheme involving his beloved nephew, Jartavious Pierre Henderson-Niles.
Known as “Pink Chevy” when he was dealing on the streets, Saine would make amends for such an unsavory vocation and turn to God and the ministry. He is the pastor of Higher Heights Christian Church in Memphis.
Old habits are sometimes hard to break. In this case, Saine would call upon a familiar skill-set after he was led to believe that his nephew’s basketball prowess was ripe for the pros.
The street life and Saine’s ingratiation with swarming coaches thus became fodder for an autobiographical book entitled “Fragrant Fouls” (River House Publishing), a true story about Saine and his penchant for stopping at nothing to hew out a path leading straightaway to his nephew’s success on the basketball court.
“It chronicles the highs and lows of my life when I was in the streets back in the day selling drugs,” said Saine, bringing to bear his criminal activity, his reinvention as a “Man of God,” and, of course, the “lies, deceit and scandal” that rocked the Memphis basketball community.
“It coincides [with] where I am now in my life, reaching back, letting folks know to stay out of the streets….” he said. “I wrote the book to let others know there’s a better way than the way we were going.”
That better way – in addition to the “hustle” that got Saine in trouble at the onset of his criminal life and at the outset when he stood in the gap for his nephew – is best detailed in the following synopsis of “Flagrant Fouls.”
“Chronicling firsthand experiences that were a paltry mix of lies, deceit and scandal, ‘Flagrant Fouls’ explores what happened behind closed doors to recruit his nephew to a college basketball program, the broken promise made by ambitious high-profile coaches and the impact those negotiations ultimately had on his family.”
One of the infamous coaches that Saine accuses in the book is John Calipari, the former head basketball coach at the University of Memphis and current head coach at the University of Kentucky. After negotiations turned ugly, the drug-dealer-turned-preacher learned that “all that glitters isn't gold.”
“It’s about my dealings with Memphis basketball coach John Calipari,” said Saine, who was his nephew’s custodian during that era of Tiger basketball. “They (coaching staff) were fragrant; they were foul; they were corrupt.”
Saine claimed Calipari and others on the coaching staff brought him into the mix under the guise of helping him because he was a “one-time” felon and couldn’t get a job.
“They were paying me under the table to bring my nephew there (U of M)…so he wouldn’t sign nowhere else,” said Saine. “As time went on, they said they would help me get a job and pay me whatever my bills were for the month.”
Saine accused Calipari of reneging on the deal, but he would pay a hefty price for the lessons he learned – including unwanted public exposure for yet another misdeed. It was all because he wanted his nephew to excel at collegiate basketball and then on the pros.
After the media broke the story in 2014, Saine said he and his nephew would run afoul of each other. He added that Henderson-Niles would eventually realize that “that man was crooked” – referring to Calipari.
Henderson-Niles graduated from the UofM in 2010. A few months ago, Saine said he struck up a conversation with his nephew about the scheme that placed them at the center of controversy.
The U of M has been silent and Saine’s allegation has not marred Calipari, who did incur several major infractions when he coached Tiger basketball.