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Golden Nuggets: Jorge Gutierrez's Rough High School Days

Cal alum Jordan Conn wrote a great piece on Jorge Gutierrez's time in Colorado, where he lived with three other undocumented high school students, could barely afford food, and still managed to lead his team to victory in the state tournament.  Despite the hardships, Jorge always played with the same tenacity that delights Cal fans and terrorizes opponents.

As a teenage boy who played for Lincoln High School in Denver, Gutierrez took the court for a summer league tournament. "We're playing and Jorge is just getting these enormous bruises all over him," recalled Ray Valdez, an assistant coach at Lincoln. "He's got circles around his eyes and everything, and it turns out he's anemic."

Anemia occurs when the red blood cells and hemoglobin have decreased in your blood, leaving you too tired and weak to endure normal activity. For Gutierrez, the cause was simple: iron deficiency. But it can be tough to get enough iron when the only food in your apartment is a head of wilted lettuce. And it can be tough to stock your refrigerator when you live 770 miles from home and don't know the language. And sure, plenty of immigrants from plenty of countries manage to go shopping all the time, but it can be tough when you're a 15-year-old kid, living in a one-bedroom apartment with three other teenagers -- all impoverished, all scared, all detached from their families and overwhelmed by their surroundings.

So when the anemia took hold of Gutierrez, bruising his body and dislodging his joints, it was natural, really. And when his right (shooting) hand turned blue, Gutierrez decided to play on.

Shooting left-handed, he scored 18 points.

Now the second-leading scorer and the leader in assists and steals for the defending Pac-10 champion Bears, Gutierrez no longer has to worry about malnutrition. But before he could begin his time in Berkeley, Gutierrez had to endure a different life in Colorado, where he lived as a basketball star, a frightened foreigner and a political lightning rod, but never, it seemed, as the teenage boy that he so longed to be.

After the jump Ted Miller admits the disappointing 2010 Cal football season was all his fault, Jeff Tedford talks about the Super Bowl, and both basketball teams post impressive victories over Oregon State.