CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In Dec. 2021, the co-owners of the Culture Complex basketball clinic got an eviction notice.
Former collegiate — and before that Corpus Christi high school — basketball players Corey Haywood and Marcus Ellison were to be out of the building they had leased until October 2022 by December 31, 2021.
Then, days after that deadline expired, the duo thought their landlord had locked them out.
It turns out, the locks hadn't been changed on a side door, and as soon as Haywood and Ellison realized it, they resumed operating their clinic for kids aspiring to play basketball at a high level.
But sneaking the kids in through the side and worrying that what they were doing might be considered trespassing was a burden on them.
“It was kind of embarrassing having to go through that," Ellison said. "But as long as we got through it, we’re fine now. We’re OK.”
They're even more so after a court ruling in their favor Wednesday.
Joe Benavides, Nueces County Justice of the Peace for Precinct One, Place One, determined that their landlord, JoAnn Amaya, had acted improperly in having the front door locks changed.
He ordered her to pay Culture Complex a total of $4,759 for court costs, attorney fees, and other damages.
Amaya nor her attorney wanted to comment after the hearing. During her testimony, she clarified why she served Haywood and Ellison with eviction papers.
“They had problems paying their rent on time," Amaya said from the witness stand.
According to their lease, rent was due on the first of the month.
But Ellison says they made arrangements each month to pay on a day that was convenient for both parties, and that had been satisfactory to Amaya and her company, A&D Barron Properties II, LLC.
"We were always in contact with (the landlords) of what day," he said. "And obviously we’d been there for six to seven months and it wasn’t a problem."
Despite Wednesday's developments in court, Amaya can continue her efforts to evict Culture Complex. The co-owners are hopeful she won't.
But if she does, they plan to fight it and win.
“Hopefully we can stay there at least until our lease ends," Haywood said. "But we are trying to figure out the next move."
“There’s no doubt in our mind that on our side we’re kind of not in the wrong," Ellison said. "Hopefully everything continues to go our way."