Best Sports Trade 2005 | Shaq Ricky Quiles | Sports | South Florida

Shaquille O'Neal is the most powerful force in basketball. The Heat got him from the Lakers and turned in one of the best regular seasons in basketball. 'Nuff said. But the trade wasn't really between the Heat and the Lakers but where the real competition lies -- between California and Florida. For years, each region has been trying to establish itself as the news -- and weirdness -- capital of the world. They had O.J.; we had Elian. They gave the country Ronald Reagan; we gave it the 2000 election. They have the Governator; we have Brother Bush. They've got earthquakes; we have hurricanes. L.A. has the Sunset Strip; SoFla has South Beach. It's inarguable, however, that Cali has taken the lead of late, with the help of that little rascal, Robert Blake, and the Laci Peterson murder. Then the King of Weirdness himself, Michael Jackson, completely stole the show. But just as it looked like South Florida would fall by the wayside, Terry Schiavo stepped up and carried the banner. Go Heat. Best Boxer in Broward

Quiles is in this spot not because he killed a man with his fists, which he did. He is here because he didn't let that horror stop him. It was February 28 last year when Quiles won a 12-round decision over Luis Villalta in Coconut Creek. Villalta went to his dressing room, complained of a headache, and collapsed. He spent four days in a coma and died five hours after his wife and father arrived from Peru. He was 34, the same age as Quiles, and, like Quiles, had two sons. Quiles cried. Drank. Prayed. Nearly retired. Took him two months to return to his Hollywood gym, Warrior's Boxing. But the sport had pulled him from a life of drug and alcohol addiction a decade earlier, and it helped to save him again. Five months after Villalta fell, Quiles returned to the ring, saying, "I don't think I will ever get over it." He won that night. He entered his next bout, in February, as an underdog to a fighter 12 years his junior. Quiles won a split decision. "This has got me closer to myself," he told the Miami Herald after the victory. That fight made Quiles (37-6-3) the second-ranked lightweight in the International Boxing Federation and, further, the rare athlete to recover from a devastating win.

To be a great collegiate volleyball player, you don't have to be the scion of an Olympic high jumper and a decathlete, nor for that matter must you spend a childhood playing eight hours of tennis daily at a specialized sports school in Eastern Europe -- but it apparently doesn't hurt. You can imagine Coral Springs High School coach Frank Bumbales' initial thought when he discovered Andonova, noticing her now six-foot-one frame in summer school: So very tall... Through an interpreter, he asked the Bulgarian-born teen to play volleyball, and to the enduring good fortune of Coral Springs and subsequently Florida Atlantic, she assented. In her first year at FAU, the middle blocker was named Atlantic Sun Conference freshman of the year; the next season, she was first-team all-conference; last year, the 22-year-old junior was named conference player of the year as she led the squad to a 21-7 record and a conference title -- its best season ever at the Division I level. The nation's volleyball coaches even made her an honorable mention All-America. Which, come to think of it, is probably the dream of most little girls playing tennis in Bulgaria.

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