Welcome to Wednesday. It’s cold out there, with highs not expected to exceed the low 30s.

Today, as we remember the life and career of local legend Kobe Bryant, you have to check out our story of the man regarded as Kobe before Kobe at Lower Merion.

And recent no-shows by Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the top Democratic candidate for Senate, aren’t a good look.

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com )

Lower Merion had two ‘gods of basketball’

Kobe Bryant’s legend at Lower Merion High School grew into one of the greatest NBA careers of all time. But before we knew about Kobe’s potential here, there was another LM hooper who many believed was on a similar path.

Sultan Shabazz’s talent inspired one fellow player to consider him a “basketball deity.” But his life was mired in bad influences, dangerous experiences, and a West Philly connection that kept bringing him back into the life his mother feverishly tried to leave.

Our columnist Mike Sielski tells a tale of reformation and redemption, of what could have been, and the remarkable success of Shabazz’s newfound calling. This story is quite the ride, so carve out some time for it today.

What you should know today

John Fetterman’s no-shows

When Philadelphia Black clergy members held a forum last week with Pennsylvania’s Senate candidates, there was one notable absence: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Fetterman was a no-show at an event that was live-streamed inside a historic Germantown church, where candidates addressed concerns raised by Black leaders — whose communities are a pillar of the Democratic coalition. To some of the roughly 25 clergy who participated, it was a damaging snub — the kind that two other Democratic groups say they’ve also experienced.

It’s brought into the open simmering questions in Democratic circles about whether Fetterman can handle the intense scrutiny that comes with being his party’s early front-runner in one of the country’s most crucial Senate races.

It also drew criticism of his willingness to listen to Black voters.

“The fact that he did not want to come into Philadelphia to have this conversation with African American leaders says to me he doesn’t really care about our community and our vote,” says Bishop Dwayne Royster, executive director of the faith-based activism group POWER.

Our reporters Julia Terruso and Jonathan Tamari have more on how some Democrats think Fetterman is ducking scrutiny.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden has been renamed to lose the name of the former president, widely regarded as a segregationist.

The new name will be Eastside High, which made me think of a fantastic but vintage movie in which the high school bore the same name. Today’s question: Do you know what movie? Take a guess from the options below. I’ll drop a hint below and if you think you know the answer, tell us at morningnewsletter@inquirer.com.

A. Saved by the Bell

B. Lean On Me

C. The Graduate

What we’re …

  • Envisioning: A world in which million-dollar players can come to terms with their billion-dollar owners so the rest of us can watch some baseball.

  • 🍳 Cooking: With a bit less meat this month as we try a few of these dishes.

  • 📸 Reading: This photo essay from Philly high schooler Matthew Taveras, who says his daily walk to school makes it pretty obvious which neighborhoods the city invests in.

Photo of the day

Trivia hint: Before Shawshank Redemption, I knew Morgan Freeman only as “Mr. Clark.”

That’s all I have for today. Until tomorrow…✌️