Of the seven Barsh brothers, Josiah had the most trouble.
Whatever they were doing in their neighborhood — playing basketball, riding bikes off jumps or other shenanigans — a dog would come barreling after them from a nearby home.
“There was this one car we would always run and hide on top of,” Josiah said. “I think it was a German shepherd. It bit me twice.”
Older brothers Josh and R-Jay don’t recall anyone else being bit. And that the dog was actually a Boxer named Tyson.
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“He was always so scared of dogs,” said Josh, the oldest of the brothers at 33. “It’s ridiculous. Oh my goodness. He was ridiculously scared of dogs.”
Get him on a basketball court, he’s far more collected.
And maybe the best of all the Barsh brothers.
Josh played at Montana State and won an NWAAC title with Tacoma Community College, R-Jay is the coach at Southeastern University in Florida, Isaiah and Caleb were both standout football players, Joseph got an academic scholarship to Gonzaga and Isaac played at TCC and Pierce College.
All those brothers, but only Josiah has a league Most Valuable Player award to his name … though Josh was the tournament MVP on the 2002 TCC NWAAC title team.
Josiah averaged 17.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Lincoln High School boys basketball team this season as the seventh-ranked Abes prepare for an elimination game against No. 6 Seattle Prep in the regional round of the state tournament at 6 p.m. Friday at Mount Tahoma High School.
But of all the brothers, Josiah has always been considered to have the most potential.
After all, he was already highlighted in The News Tribune for his basketball skills when he was 3.
“He’s 3 years old and can already dribble a ball behind his back,” Josh said in that 2001 article. “Plus, he’s got us to teach him.”
It’s true. Josiah says he trains with Josh and lifts weights with Caleb every morning. Their workouts intensified this past summer.
But waking up early is nothing new.
Josh remembers Josiah waking him up at 7:30 on Saturday mornings, not to watch cartoons, but to play “And 1” VHS tapes. Josiah would try to replicate the moves in a small area in their basement.
R-Jay remembers getting a paper grocery bag, cutting out a hole in the bottom and tacking it onto the wall.
Instant basketball hoop.
“We played rough. It was more like football than basketball,” R-Jay said. “Josiah probably cried more than he enjoyed it, but it made him tougher.”
Josiah, the only left-hander in the family, said he and his next youngest brother, Isaac, made a hoop out of cardboard and taped it to the downstairs wall.
“I went to go dunk it and Isaac tried to block me and I fell on my arm and sprained it,” Josiah said. “I went to school in a little cast and a sling and my brothers were just like, ‘Man up, blah, blah, blah.’
“I used to be a little crybaby. But I grew out of that.”
The oldest four brothers all attended Puyallup High School before the family moved to Tacoma. Joseph started at Foss and graduated from Bellarmine Prep, Isaac started at Bellarmine Prep and graduated from Lincoln — where he played for current coach Aubrey Shelton — and Josiah has spent all four years at Lincoln.
When Shelton was named the school’s coach in 2007, he asked R-Jay to be his top assistant. This after they played against each other when R-Jay starred at Puyallup and Shelton at Lincoln.
So R-Jay helped coach Shelton’s younger brother, Kaleb, and Josiah acted as the team’s ball boy. Shelton later coached Isaac, and now, finally, the last of the Barsh boys.
“When Josiah finally came to Lincoln, we were really excited just because we know the Barsh family,” Shelton said. “I knew he was a great kid. And here he is, the hope of the Barsh family, the last one.”
Josiah always shared a room with Isaac growing up, until former Lincoln standout Tre’Shaun Fletcher, now playing on the Colorado men’s basketball team, moved in for a year. Isaac got his own room, while Josiah and Fletcher, who might as well be Josiah’s seventh brother, shared one.
“When I first met him, I didn’t have a younger brother so I just let him take that role of just being a younger brother,” Fletcher said. “He has a lot of great role models to look up to with all his brothers, and I just tried to be an extra one.”
But to finally get his own room? It took getting used to.
“At first I was kind of scared,” he said. “I’ve never really had my own room before. I actually had a nightlight. I took it out, though, because I was like, ‘Man, I can’t sleep with this nightlight on.’
“Sometimes I would sleep with the TV on. My mom would turn it off at like 3 a.m. and I would wake up and turn it back on. … I felt like I kind of had somebody there with the TV on.”
His brothers are still there for him. Josiah called R-Jay this week to see if college coaches had asked about him, which, surprisingly, few have.
“I just told him to focus on Seattle Prep. We got this,” R-Jay said. “The thing with me being connected as a coach is we’ll find the right spot for Josiah. All I want him to do right now is play basketball games.”
Josiah has wrote a reminder in his phone just in case.
“On Friday, February 27th My team beat Seattle Prep and are going to State!”
It would only make the rest of the Barsh brothers that much more proud.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677