Miles of memories connect basketball communities in Flint, Port Huron

Posted: January 18, 2011 by Jared Field in Big Nine, College, JUCO
Tags: ,

There was a tribute to the late Terrance “TK” Keaton in the program at the Mott game against St. Clair on Saturday afternoon. Keaton, who lost his life in a car accident just before Thanksgiving, was raised in Flint and a starting forward for St. Clair.

Here’s the text of the program, in case you missed it:

St. Clair sophomore Terrance Keaton remembered for his love of life, basketball

FLINT, Michigan — This would have been TK’s day. This was the first game he looked for on the schedule, the game that he went the extra mile preparing for.

“We’ve got something for Mott this year,” he would always tell me.

Now his teammates are following his example, preparing for each new day in much the same way Terrance Keaton did – with confidence, excitement and anticipation.

“TK would have been bouncing off the walls (today),” said St. Clair head coach, Dale Vos.  “In fact, I’m certain that we would’ve needed to calm him down a bit.  I’m sure we would have been pushing everyone to reach his excitement level – which of course would be nearly impossible.”

Nearly impossible also described what it was like for players and coaches to move forward without Terrance after his tragic death in a car accident back in November.

“The first time I got back on the court i almost came to tears during the National Anthem,” said Alan Sharp, St. Clair’s sophomore point guard and one of Keaton’s closest friends. “I knew he was still with us and remains to this day.”

For Coach Vos, the days and weeks following Terrance’s death became a search for what he called a “new normal.” Terrance’s larger-than-life persona made his absence that much more evident.

There’s no forgetting Terrance Keaton.

“The first 2-3 weeks were a constant emotional drain,” Vos said. “First we all left for a Thanksgiving break, which was hard because we weren’t together.  Then the next week we had three games and the funeral.  Then we tried to get back to a new normal, but this was really the beginning of the healing.”

Vos said it was just before Christmas when the team started to realize the extent of Terrance’s loss on the basketball court.

“Before that we all just missed him as a friend,” he said.

Coach Vos acknowledge that he was late to the party with Terrance. He didn’t really know what he had in the 6-foot-5 Flint kid with the goofy smile and the gift of gab. But, by the time the fall of 2009 rolled around, he knew he had someone special.

“He had one of the most infectious personalities that I’ve ever been around,” he said. “By the time we started playing games … he had me and he still has me infected today.”

For Alan, not a morning passes without thinking about his friend — one part motivator, another part alarm clock.

“Having TK as a teammate and basically a brother these last few years has been a real good thing for me,” Sharp said. “I say this because he was a very motivating person; he would get up at 7 a.m and wake me up saying ‘Al, it’s time to get to work! That was my drive to get up those mornings.”

Vos said Terrance’s funeral has also given his team strength to make it through the hard times, knowing that so many are struggling with the loss.

“The words and actions of everyone made our entire team and college for that matter feel like we were an extended family,” Vos said. “We also felt like we were that extended family, but to feel it from his real family and from the Flint community was important.”

For Vos, Terrance’s loss has been an opportunity to reflect on the craft, and how coaches are coached, too.

“These last two teams more than any that I’ve been around have taught me that we can have a lot of fun in this game and still be successful,” he said. “TK was a big part of that, he taught me and his teammates how to work really hard and still be that goofy little kid all at the same time.  I know that doesn’t always work for everyone, but it really seemed to work for us.”

Terrance Keaton was a big part of a lot of lives, stretching from Flint to Port Huron and beyond. In the two months since we lost Terrance, many hundreds of friends and family have filled his Facebook page to overflowing with memories.

Ariane Campbell wrote this about her friend: “You have been on my mind so much today … I will be at the game (in Flint) Saturday. I remember telling you that I would ‘think about it’ when you told me I better be there! And you told me you would drag me and Jazz there if you had too! R.I.P…Big head. Light Bright misses you!”

From the one extra shot in shooting drills at St. Clair, to today’s moment of silence in Flint, let us not forget the memories of a life lived well-lived.

— By Jared Field | Great Lakes Hoops

  1. Anthony Coggins says:

    It was a hell of a tribute Jared…well done. I gave a copy of that, plus what I read, to Alan Sharp after the game. He appreciated both.

    Good job my friend…

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