What's in a name: James Michael Ray McAdoo
Posted February 19, 2013
University of North Carolina sophomore James Michael McAdoo has a last name synonymous with basketball in the Triangle but there is more to his name than the family tree alone can tell.
Ronnie McAdoo, James Michael’s father, was a star at Orange High School in Hillsborough. From there he went on to post a hall of fame career at Old Dominion University. Ronnie's second cousin is former North Carolina All-American Bob McAdoo.
"Being a McAdoo, and people knowing about Bob McAdoo and my father, there definitely is a higher standard to live up to,” James Michael said.
Growing up in Norfolk, Va., he went by James McAdoo until his final year of high school.
"Right in the middle of his senior year, he came to mom and dad and said, ‘hey I want to be known by my full name,’" Ronnie said.
James Michael Ray McAdoo.
The name is simple yet unique but its roots are derived from tragedy and carried with remembrance.
Ray Broxton grew up in Florida and became a teammate of Ronnie's at ODU. In 1989, Broxton died in an accidental fall at the age of 26.
"I was like a big brother to him," Ronnie recalled of their relationship, Broxton being a couple years younger.
James and Michael McPherson went to Orange High School with Ronnie. The three of them were classmates, teammates and, soul mates. Even after high school, they found ways to spend time together.
On April 28, 1979, Ronnie, James and Michael were going to travel together from Old Dominion back to North Carolina.
"Michael was in the Navy at Portsmouth and James and I were at ODU together as freshmen," Ronnie remembered. “We were scheduled to leave first thing Saturday morning, about 6 o'clock. I was pretty tired so when James and Michael came by Saturday morning about 5:30- 6 o'clock and said ‘you ready to go home?’ I said, ‘hey, I stayed out pretty late last night so tell my mom I'll see her next week. I'm not going to be able to make it home this week.’”
Ronnie went back to sleep while James and Michael headed home to Hillsborough.
"About an hour, two hours later, a state trooper came and knocked on my dorm door and said that .... ‘There's been an accident on 58. Michael and James were killed,’” Ronnie recalled, unable to hold back his tears. “I was supposed to be in that car. I was supposed to be in that car, but by the grace of God, he had other plans for me."
Ronnie chose to remember his three friends that were lost too early by having their names live on.
"I talked about them almost every day and he's heard the stories about James and Michael and Ray and he knows how close they were to me," Ronnie said.
“I've heard the story many times. I've just sat and thanked God for not having my father in that car,” James Michael said. “I love him so much and he's made me into who I am today.
“James, Michael and Ray are all men that made my father who he is today and played such a vital role in his early life. Just to know there are people that knew all those men that are looking at me and giving me a nod of approval, it's a blessing for me to carry that with me for the rest of my life."
Ronnie and his wife Janet make the drive from Norfolk to every Carolina home game. They call it a dream come true to watch James Michael Ray play for the Tar Heels. And every time they hear his name, it's a reminder of a son and father forever connected by three names.
“As long as I'm living, and James Michael is living, their names are going to live forever," Ronnie said.