Rival clubs swoop as Hawks defend Ty McKee sacking

As rival clubs circle for the signature of discarded United States import Tywain McKee, the Wollongong Hawks say they did everything possible to support the troubled player.The 24-year-old was convicted of a string of driving offences earlier this year, resulting in the Hawks severing ties with the star point guard.McKee returned to the US on March 23. Earlier in the day he had been fined $2000 and placed on a good behaviour bond.

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  • VOTE: Should Ty ever be allowed to play with the Hawks? The Hawks board voted that McKee's actions were not in line with the values of the community-based club, chief executive Wayne Morris said.But the suggestion that McKee was not offered enough guidance is one Morris denies."All avenues were made available to Ty through the coaching staff, myself, our chaplain - all those people were there, he knew that," Morris said.The consequences for stepping out of line were "clearly spelt out at the start of every season", club captain Mat Campbell said.From a rough neighbourhood in South Philadelphia, the quietly spoken McKee was well liked among team-mates at the Hawks but was described as "naive" and "socially challenged".In an interview with the Mercury earlier this year, McKee described his inner-city upbringing: "I grew up in a rough area, people die over gun violence." McKee had a tragic childhood; his father was shot and killed and his single mother struggled to make ends meet.Coach Gordie McLeod admits McKee was on a steep learning curve coming to Australia straight out of college but stressed he and team staff did everything they could to help their star player settle in.In fact, the veteran coach says he will be staying in touch with McKee."The disappointing thing was he didn't feel he could come and talk to anyone about it," McLeod said.Other clubs seem willing to take a punt on McKee, who was in line to receive the NBL's Most Valuable Player award."It probably wouldn't stop us signing him," one NBL club official said. "We love what he did on the court. "We don't condone what he did off the court, but I would think we would give him a second chance."Whether McKee would be allowed back into the country is another matter."They may reject the visa application on character grounds but the department may also think that driving offences are not serious enough to warrant such a rejection," specialist immigration lawyer Ann Woods from Hanson Lawyers said.

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