Tulyah Gaines has been forced to deal with a troubling situation in
With two months remaining in the school year, the Burroughs High
girls’ basketball standout should be occupying her time with common
high-school worries, like plans for the prom, studying for finals and
where she’s going on her summer vacation.
She should not have to worry about where she is going to call home
in a few weeks.
Gaines -- a junior -- her brother Jashaad and mother Pha, have
been given a 60-day notice to vacate their Burbank apartment. That
normally wouldn’t be a problem, but Pha was laid off from her job two
weeks ago and the combination of the two setbacks has left the Gaines
family in peril.
“They are renovating the apartment building we live in, so they
just gave us the 60-day notice,” Pha said. “I guess they just want to
renovate so they can raise the rent and get more money. I didn’t know
they could do something like that.
“Because of the economic state of things, I haven’t been able to
find a job. And although there are other places to rent, who rents to
someone with no income?
“Unless some miracle happens, we won’t be in Burbank very long.
It’s sad because this is Tulyah’s last year and she really loves
Burroughs and Coach Doug [Nicol].”
Pha said the family might be forced to move to Riverside to live
in a house owned by Tulyah’s grandmother.
The unfortunate turn of events comes on the heels of an
outstanding basketball season for Tulyah. The 5-foot-8 point guard
put herself in the record books with an impressive array of skills
and accomplishments. It is her combination of speed, fine shooting
and an uncanny ability to run the floor that has earned her the honor
of Burbank Leader All-Area Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year.
The award is voted on by the sportswriters and editors of the
Burbank Leader and News-Press.
In the wake of her tough situation, Gaines isn’t the type to
wallow in her family’s misfortune. However, hidden behind a gleaming
smile and her best game-face, the unpretentious teenager has been
affected by the problem.
“I know she worries about it, and it bothers her,” Pha said. “But
I told her not to worry about it and just concentrate on school and
Preferring to talk more about basketball -- and her bright future
in the sport -- than her family’s predicament, Gaines does provide a
tiny glimpse into what she must be going through.
“It’s pretty bad,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going to
Although her current housing situation remains uncertain, the same
can’t be said about Gaines’ future in basketball.
Almost every day, Gaines comes home to a mailbox stuffed with
letters, cards, and various materials from college coaches and
recruiters. The barrage has gotten so overwhelming that the
neighborhood mail carrier helps direct some of the parcels.
“Some of the letters and things get sent to the wrong address,”
Pha said. “But the mailman has gotten to know us, so he just
scratches out the wrong address and puts ours in.”
It’s easy to see why Gaines is being courted by the likes of Notre
Dame, Duke, Vanderbilt, Kansas State and New Mexico.
She was the go-to player at Burroughs (14-13), helping the Indians
advance two rounds in the CIF Southern Section Division IIA playoffs.
Along with scoring 18.9 points -- 21.6 in the Foothill League -- a
game, she also averaged 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.1 steals.
In a season when she missed games because of flu and stitches in
her hand after a minor accident at home, Gaines still set a Burroughs
school record for assists in a season, netting 122, breaking the old
record of 120 set in 1993 by Jamie Vahoviak.
Her exploits earned her first-team All-CIF Division IIA and
first-team All-Foothill League honors.
With nearly 15 years experience as a head coach at Burroughs and
an assistant at Bellarmine-Jefferson, Nicol has seen his share of
talented players come through the city over the years.
However, when it comes to pinpointing the best female athlete to
play basketball in Burbank, Nicol said there is no contest.
“Easily, it’s Tulyah,” he said. “I have had a lot of good players
since I have been coaching at Burroughs, and I grew up in the city,
so I have seen all the players for years now.
“At Bell-Jeff, they had Jackie Johnson there a few years ago and
she went on to play in the WNBA for a year. But when it comes down to
it, I think Tulyah will be the best player to ever come out of the
city. I really think she’ll play in the WNBA one day.”
Nicol said Gaines possesses all the necessary skills to play at
any level she chooses. A consummate perfectionist who continues to
grow as a student of the game, the coach said he is constantly amazed
at Gaines’ abilities.
“Tulyah is just a special player, the kind of player who comes
along once in a lifetime,” he said.
“But along with being a great player, Tulyah is a super person and
a very good student.”
Gaines had a 3.7 grade-point average last semester.
Along with putting pressure on herself in the classroom, Gaines
also has aspects of her basketball game she intends to work hard on.
“For my senior season, I want to work on my offense so I can be a
better shooter,” she said. “I think I’ve got the defensive thing down
pretty well, I just have to improve as a shooter.”
However, before her senior season, Gaines intends to play a lot
more basketball. This weekend, she is competing with her Amateur
Athletic Assn. club team in the Boo Williams Invitational in Hampton,
On June 11 to 15, Gaines will be one of 48 of the nation’s top
high school girls’ players invited to take part in the second annual
USA Basketball Women’s Youth Development Festival in Colorado
The festival gives players a chance to hone their skills in
Olympic- and international-type competition.
“It is just a great opportunity for me to play in something like
this,” Gaines said. “I’m just honored that I have been picked to be a
part of it.”
Nicol said he and Burroughs have also been honored and privileged
to have helped Gaines grow into a talented athlete and student.
They are just hoping she will be back in an Indian uniform for her
NEWS-PRESS ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM
NAME SCHOOL YEAR POSITION
Natasha Belou CV Senior Forward
Diahan Futalan La Canada Junior Forward
Kasey Hurlbutt La Canada Junior Guard
Katie Kimble Flintridge Prep Senior Forward
Selina Tech Providence Senior Guard
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
TULYAH GAINES * JR.
BURROUGHS * GUARD
* Named first team All-CIF Southern Section Division IIA.
* Named first team All-Foothill League for second consecutive
* Averaged 18.9 points -- 21.6 in the Foothill League -- 5.2
rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.1 steals a game.
* Set a school record with 122 assists this season.
* Scored 34 points in two of the Indians’ final three games, one
of which was a 61-54 loss to Ventura in the second round of the CIF
Southern Section Division IIA playoffs.
* Is looking at Notre Dame, Duke, Vanderbilt, Kansas State and New
Mexico as college choices.
* Is one of just 48 players chosen nationally to take part in the
second annual USA Basketball Women’s Youth Development Festival.