Franklin Youth Basketball Association vice-president and coach Paul Charapata still finds it hard to talk about last Memorial Day weekend, when he discovered that eighth grader and the FYBBA's designated spirit-lifter Ronald Edmonds had died in an accidental drowning.
"I still can't put into words the loss," Charapata said. "My heart was in my throat when his Mom called."
So Charapata and others associated with the Franklin basketball program decided to put their feelings into action at Jan. 14's varsity game with Racine Park when they presented Edmonds' mother Keysha Allen and other family members with a framed jersey and action picture of him.
Edmonds' youth program teammates, the members of the current Franklin freshmen squad, handled the presentation. About 30 of Edmonds' family members were in attendance.
Keeping memory vibrant
"He'd been in the program for three years, and we wanted to do something to keep Ron's memory alive," said Charapata. "When tragedy like this happens, sometimes there's a nice outpouring early on, but then the memory fades.
"But Ron was always a real positive influence, so we want him to be remembered."
In light of that thought, FYBBA's annual youth tournament, Feb. 19-20, will also be dedicated to Edmonds.
And for good reason, because in situations like this, people always want to remember the best about a person who has passed, but in the case of Edmonds, no one really has to stretch to do that.
Ron played basketball and football, rode a skateboard as often as possible and liked anything involving technology, from keeping up with friends on Facebook to playing video games.
A tight bond
"We got very close," said Charapata. "I'd pick him up for practice and take him home afterwards. He was a kid who you could develop a special bond to very easily. He had a very infectious laugh and you couldn't help but like the kid."
Edmonds would have been part of that Franklin freshmen team this season and varsity coach Tim Hogan wanted to be sure his ceremony had a large crowd by making as many announcements as possible at school in the week leading up to it.
The plan worked.
A final touch
"The gym was packed," said Charapata.
"We were lucky," Hogan said. "The ceremony was terrific and the family very understanding." The varsity put a good final touch on the evening with an 84-70 victory over Park.
Charapata has no doubt in his mind that sometime in the near future, Edmonds would have been a big part of the varsity basketball picture at Franklin.
"I always thought that as an athlete, the sky was the limit for him," Charapata said. "(He was) just very gifted."
And gifted in other ways, as well.
"As good as he was in sports, I always thought his main goal in life was to make people happy," Charapata said. "Ron was always around for people who needed him."
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