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Published Thursday November 12th, 2009 at 1:54pm

Original Article by Chad Peters

Stephanie Wittman remembers the time she met her birth mother 10 years ago -- her only recollection of a woman whose name now escapes her.

"I knew, but I forgot," she said. "It started with an 'S.' I know that."

Such is life when bouncing from family to family, city to city while spending your childhood wedged in the ever-fluctuating world of the foster-care system.

San Antonio Alamo Heights point guard Stephanie Wittman has found solace on the basketball court.

Wittman grew up in at least four households -- there were more, but those are the ones she remembers -- scattered across four cities and two states after being placed in foster care at the age of 2.

Friends, parents and siblings would come and go for the Detroit native, but she managed to find solace in such change -- and, eventually, in basketball.

Then that, too, was taken away from her last year when she tore her ACL eight games into her junior season.

"You lose touch with friends, go different paths," said Wittman, the Mules' star senior point guard. "That was the hardest part, not having that childhood friend. Other than that, it's kind of cool moving around. You get to reinvent yourself everywhere you go."

Which explains how without any organized basketball in her background, Wittman -- born Stephanie Levette Treadwell -- came to Texas in 2003 and transformed herself into a top-end girls basketball recruit.

Set to sign her national letter of intent with Kansas State this week, the 5-foot-9 Wittman burst onto the national scene last year when ESPNU HoopGurlz ranked her as the nation's 44th-best overall prospect.

"Here this girl comes along, and she doesn't have any experience except what she learned on the street, and look at where she is today," said her adopted father, Bill Wittman. "It's like, 'Wow. Amazing.'"

Wittman, whose injury dropped her to 37th in the country at her position in the most recent rankings, averaged 20 points and 8.5 rebounds last year before injuring her knee.

Now fully recovered from the injury, she will lead the Mules into Tuesday's season opener against Wagner.

"I think basketball has been important," said Wittman's adopted mother, Ludi. "That was that little stone that grew."

Basketball has provided a rock-like source of stability for Wittman, who along with her older brother, Isaiah, was removed from her single-parent mother by Child Protective Services in Detroit.

Stephanie was 2 and Isaiah 3 at the time, and they then bounced across Michigan, living everywhere from Detroit to Grand Rapids to Cadillac before settling in with Bill and Ludi Wittman in Alamo Heights in 2003.

They were officially adopted in 2004, marking the sixth and seventh children adopted by Bill, who had previously adopted five boys -- now ranging from ages 24-36 -- as a single parent. They were the first children adopted by the Wittmans during their 10-year marriage.

Stephanie and Isaiah also will mark the Wittmans' final children, as Bill is 70 and Ludi 55.

"I always think about, 'What if we hadn't come along?'" Ludi said. "Would she have had the same opportunities?"

Perhaps not, but then Stephanie isn't one to dwell much over such what-ifs.

Asked of the snapshot image of her childhood, she was quick to respond with the one moment that helped put her in control of an otherwise wobbly world.

"Lasting image?" Stephanie said. "Picking up a ball."

For Stephanie, that reinvented everything.