At 6-foot-5, Kevin Mahoney, age 27, is doing it in the penitentiary. They call the Washington DC native T-Mac as in Tracy. And this high flyer can play. Straight to the rack on the break, a follow-up slam, two dribbles cutting in from the wing and bam – get it out your mouth, son. You can’t stop it. No matter how much you want to. The kid is just too explosive and quick. And he’s been proving it since Day 1 in the go-hard world of prison basketball.“My first experience of prison ball was real physical. No fouls called,” Kevin says. “Because down Lorton, you had to play physical or you couldn’t get on the court. Prison ball is different than ball on the streets because the guys in here are more in shape. A lot of fouls you may get on the street you won’t get in here.”
That is just how they do it in the pen. It’s a straight gladiator school on and off the court.
“I have played 8 seasons in prison,” Kevin says. “I do try to rec everyday because I am always trying to improve my game. Yes, dudes be going hard so that means you have to go hard.”
And you can’t front on the court like those dudes back on the block talking about that Lexus they never had. On the court, if you have no got game you’ll be exposed and dudes will take it to the next level.
“At times you do have guys that get in their feelings,” Kevin says. “Because they can’t check no one or they was fouled to the point of blood. I don’t really worry about it because I’m a ball player.”
And the kid was at the big house, balling at USP Lewisburg.
“When I first stepped foot in Lewisburg in 2002 to play my first game, there was a lot of hype around some of the big guys on the pound,” Kevin says. “So I came out and did my thing. A good friend named Calvin who was playing with me turned to someone after the game and said who’s the best big man on the pound now.”
Wherever Kevin goes in the system, dudes have the same reaction to his game.
“My position is a shooting guard,” he says. “But while in prison I have added parts to my game that make me feel like a power forward. I will say my game is more finesse like Tim Duncan. I can be physical also. My MO is my moves in the paint.”
And although Kevin goes hard, he tries to dodge the bammas and the haters and have fun.
“The game is about having fun,” he says. “But it’s also a rush when you hit somebody with a move or dunk on someone and the crowd is going crazy. To go hard and play with a lot of heart is what I do because without that your game is nothing.”
Kevin’s game might have gone somewhere under different circumstances.
“The pros were a dream of mine but after finding out my girl was pregnant in high school I turned to the streets to support my family,” Kevin says. “I got locked up a few times and also shot a few times. I started to go down after that and now I am doing five years for a gun and three to nine years for violating probation under the Youth Act. But I think I could have played college or pro ball.”
But in life it’s always a situation of circumstances. Still Kevin loves basketball.
“It’s my first love,” he says. “I watch every game that comes on TV, so that I can take notes because I always have room for improvement. Basketball has always been a part of my life.”
This student of the game has played with some good prison ballers too.
“At FCI Gilmer, DJ, the Matrix and Monkee have real nice games,” he says. “And while locked up in Lewisburg there were a lot of good players like my good friend Man-man, D Brown, D-Nice, C Sumner, Chester, Dicehead, Black, KK and Rodney Hill.”
And in the league you know the DC native follows the Wizards.
“My team is the Washington Wizards. My favorite player is Tim Duncan and Gilbert Arenas. I was given the name T-Mac while in the pen because I can put the ball on the floor but I think I play more like Duncan.”
And Kevin likes to win also.
“I am about winning,” he says. “I like my team to be in the game. I like the ball in my hands because I am very confident.”
It shows in his play. A 6-foot-5, go-hard, fearless player who boards, drives and plays D. He’s sure to make any team in a prison a champion. What more could you ask for.