Every time College of Charleston’s Canyon Barry put’s on his shoot-around shirt before games, he is reminded that there’s more to life beyond the basketball court.
The shirt reads, “Play for Chad C20K” in remembrance of former Charleston walk-on Chad Cooke, who died while playing basketball at his home of Bolingbrook, Ill., on Christmas Eve.
“It’s a reminder every game that there’s more to life than basketball,” Barry said after his team lost 69-67 against Northeastern on Saturday. “We love the game, that’s what we play for, but ultimately we got to play for God, honor Christ and that’s something Chad did every game.”
Barry, who had 11 points and six boards in the game, said Cooke was one of his best friends. Cooke walked on to the team in 2012 and played through last season.
“Everyone on the team really loved him,” the youngest son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry said. “He had an impact on everyone he met pretty much. It’s been tough. It’s been a learning process for the team, having to cope with the tough loss, especially for someone so young and such a good person.”
Even though Cooke didn’t get too many minutes, Barry said he could always count on his best friend to lighten the mood in the locker room and bring the intensity in practice.
“Chad was a great player, actually,” Barry said “He was pretty short, but he was really athletic and could dunk and everything. He played on the scout team for us and he came to practice every day with a can-do attitude. He worked in practice and tried to give us the best look possible so the starters could go against the other team’s defense.”
The warm-up shirts are all the motivation Barry needs to play the game. But they also bring back the fondest memories of his former teammate.
“He made everyone laugh,” Barry said. “He’s hilarious, he’s always doing these impersonations, dancing around the locker room, telling these funny stories, he’s just a character. That’s how we’ll remember him.”