Prokopios Paul Zois

World Trade Center

Games as Sacred Rites



For Paul Zois, his children's ball games were sacred rites — events that took precedence over practically everything. He emmigrated from Greece at the age of 9, and was poor: he had never had time to play. As soon as his children — Stefania and Theo — were able to toddle, he began to make up for it. He coached their soccer and basketball teams year-round. Nearly every night, after work, he went to a practice or game. Frequently, he did not get home for dinner until 10 or 11, said his wife, Dorota.

"You should see our backyard," she said. "We have more balls and nets than you can imagine. He would never come home without new sports socks or sports gear he had picked up in the city."

The Friday before Sept. 11, Theo asked for a new pair of high-quality soccer shoes. The stores did not carry them, so Mr. Zois, 46, ordered them from a catalog. Meanwhile, since the soccer season was starting, he screwed new nubs into Theo's old shoes.

Wednesday, Sept. 12, the shoes arrived, Mrs. Zois said. Theo sat on the bed, crying and cradling them.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 22, 2001.




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