By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
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"I was at the AAU [basketball] program in the summer, watching games, when I met the Blakes," Lund recalls. "I said if there was any way I could help out [with their enrollment at Miami High], I'd be delighted to." She says this is not the first time she's donated her address to the school's sports program. "I've put a couple of baseball players up here in the past," she elaborates. "I told them I'm willing to do anything I can do."
Steven's mother Cindy told New Times she and her husband had separated as a couple prior to the start of the school year. Her son, she said, chose to live with his father in an apartment in the Miami High attendance zone. Both Lund and Coach Frank Martin say that the "apartment" was in Lund's house.
Lund, along with the Blakes, is apparently unaware that this arrangement is forbidden under FHSAA rules and could result in the loss of Steve Blake's senior year of athletic eligibility. At New Times's request, she gamely provides a tour of the Blakes' ostensible living quarters. "They slept here," she says, stepping into a single cramped room occupied by a pair of twin beds. She points to a pair of old white sneakers placed by the door to the room. "Those are Steve Blake's shoes," she asserts. "You can clearly see that they are his shoes."
If the shoes belong to Steven Blake, they appear to be the only things he or his father owns in the whole house. Lund -- who was told by Miami's coaching staff and by the Blakes to expect a visit from New Times -- says that Richard and Cindy Blake recently reunited as a couple and that Richard and Steven moved back to their Miami Lakes home. Oddly, however, she does not seem to know when Richard and Steven moved out of the home she supposedly shared with them. "It may have been last night," she says. "It may have been a couple of weeks ago. I'm not certain." (Richard Blake did not return a telephone call.)
New Times informed head coach Frank Martin of questions about Blake's residency on Monday, February 16. By Wednesday of that week, Steven Blake's official home address in the school district computer system changed from Lund's home back to his family home in Miami Lakes.
"[Steven] has just moved back to Miami Lakes," chirped Cindy Blake when reached that Friday. "My husband runs an apartment complex in the [Miami High school] district and they were living there together." She could not say where this apartment complex is located. "I would have to look at the address and I don't have it here [at work]," she said. "I don't know it off the top of my head. I have this information at home, of course. I just never had to go there or mail anything there. I just don't know it. I haven't been there in a while." Cindy Blake insisted that her son moved home "because I missed him," and that she "checked everything through with his coaches and saw that he could move back, so he did.
"It was a completely honest decision to play for Miami High," she added. "My husband and I split up and that's a fact, that can be checked. He got an apartment down there, in the district, and they both lived there. To be honest with you, we're not stupid enough to do it any other way. That doesn't make sense to put our child's future -- his career -- in jeopardy. Anything done was done completely aboveboard."
Although Cindy Blake's accounts of her son's whereabouts sound awfully confusing, one thing is clear in speaking with her: She is fiercely devoted to Miami High's basketball program. "Last year I would have been the first to complain about them," she says. "I didn't like them at all. When I saw it from the inside this season, and saw that it was run by such wonderful people and such great coaches, I changed my mind completely. When Steven played at Killian, my husband would point to the Miami High bench and say, 'Look at that! Why do they need six assistant coaches?' Now we found out why. They are all so helpful. They travel with the team, they take them to the movies. One coach took a player to the hospital when he got injured. I don't hesitate any more to say that the program is fabulous. I had no clue it was like this. Had I known more about their program, Steven probably would have been there as a freshman."
Miami High is not the only school to which talented athletes transfer. Richard and Cindy Blake's home lies clearly within the attendance zone of Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School. Yet before becoming a Stingaree, Steven Blake somehow played two seasons at Killian High in Kendall. Even Stings coach Martin complains that students who should be in his program end up at other schools. Lucas Barnes is a prime example. Florida's Mr. Basketball for 1996, Barnes attended a middle school that feeds into Miami High, yet enrolled at and played for South Miami.