Ole Miss has turned Marshall Henderson's indefinite suspension into a definite one, according to Scott Gleeson of USA Today. On Tuesday the school announced the talented yet embattled Rebels senior guard will miss three regular-season games and an exhibition contest as a result of actions from last season and this offseason.
As Gleeson reminds us, Henderson was indefinitely suspended by Ole Miss on July 10 for violation of team rules.
Gleeson adds more details. Henderson's suspension includes the Nov. 1 exhibition game against South Carolina-Aiken, the regular-season opener on Nov. 8 against Troy, a Jan. 9 game against Auburn and a Jan. 11 matchup with Mississippi State. The last two are the Rebels' first two conference games.
Henderson appears to understand the severe suspension. Gleeson provided this quote from a statement issued by the 6'2" scorer:
I want to thank (Ole Miss coach) Kennedy, (Ole Miss athletic director) Ross Bjork and the university for giving me an opportunity to rejoin the team. This has been a difficult time for me, and I appreciate this chance. My teammates and I are looking forward to defending our SEC Championship.
Given his recent off-the-court struggles, this was a wise stance to take.
As Gleeson recounts, Henderson's offseason was a turbulent one.
Following a season where he averaged 20.1 points per game, the 23-year-old had three instances involving police. The most serious of which was a traffic stop where he was found to be in possession of marijuana and cocaine.
Unfortunately, these kinds of run-ins are not a new problem for Henderson.
When Henderson was a senior in high school, he and an associate used $800 of counterfeit money to purchase 57 grams of marijuana. Federal authorities took offense to this action. Henderson was placed on parole, which he thoroughly violated, and wound up being sentenced to 25 days in a Texas jail.
Obviously, there are ample reasons for concerns over Henderson's troubles persisting or resurfacing. However, his reaction to his current situation is at least promising.
Those signs aren't limited to his statement, either.
ESPN's Andy Katz offers up a nice glimpse into Henderson's thoughts in a recent interview.
Henderson shared a recent revelation: "This is the first time I ever just realized, 'Holy crap, they gave me another chance.' I thank them every day. I can't believe that they did."
Henderson's acknowledgement of his fortunate situation is a great sign. People motivated to stay on the right track when driven by gratitude and an understanding of past missteps have a far greater chance of succeeding than those motivated by fear or just the need to get people off of their backs.
Henderson isn't playing the victim, and he isn't blaming the system for coming down too hard on him.
More than anything, though, the following quote grabbed my attention. Henderson was asked by Katz where he wanted to be in five or ten years.
Henderson offered up this response:
I want to help people, and so one way I'll be able to help people is with drug and alcohol use because I've been through it and still have a chance to succeed. It's weird how all this trouble, this freaking game of basketball, can actually lead me to helping people in a way that I never would have thought I could have done.
What a great statement. Henderson is not only acknowledging his own problems, but the immense opportunity his talent has created for him to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
By all appearances, Henderson is not hiding from the reality of his problems through a nonsensical web of rationalizations. This is common in all walks of life and would be a particularly easy pratfall for those whose talent created an environment of entitlement their whole lives.
I have no idea if Henderson will be able to overcome his issues. I certainly hope he does, but addiction can topple over even those with the best intentions.
However, what I do know is that Henderson's attitude indicates a person who has grown from his mistakes, and that is a wonderful sign for his future.