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MILWAUKEE – This place represents Kevon Looney’s hometown, where he sharpened his work ethic, formed his resiliency and inspired countless kids.
When Alexander Hamilton High School retires his No. 5 jersey on Thursday, though, Looney’s mind will not wander toward himself or his accolades. Nor will he think ahead to when the Warriors (17-9) visit the Milwaukee Bucks (16-7) on Friday. Instead, Looney will think about who won’t be there among his friends, coaches and family members.
Wati Majeed, a longtime childhood friend, died on Oct. 14, exactly two days before the Warriors’ regular-season started. Majeed, who is friends with Looney’s older brother, Kevin, died at age 28 because of complications from a seizure. Since then, Looney has masked his pain by remaining a dependable Warriors’ reserve with his hard work, unassuming personality and adaptability.
“I would love for him to be here. But sadly he can’t,” Looney said in a somber moment. “So I’m going to dedicate my season to him.”
Before every game, Looney writes “R.I.P Wati” and “ Long Live Wati” on his shoes. Looney then prays on his late friend’s behalf. During each game, Looney often thinks about him, too. So with Majeed attending every one of his prep basketball games and offering endless advice on perfecting his craft, Looney plans to return the favor.
He could not attend Majeed’s funeral since it conflicted with the Warriors’ schedule. So on Thursday, Looney plans to visit Majeed’s gravesite “and give my goodbyes.”
It seems fitting for Looney to share his gratitude. During his childhood and four years with the Warriors, Looney has done the same thing for his hometown.
“It shaped me a lot. Being from Milwaukee is a badge of honor,” Looney said. “Guys joke with me that Milwaukee is one of the worst NBA cities, but I take pride in being from Milwaukee.”
Helping those in need
Looney will not just spend Thursday basking in his jersey retirement ceremony or grieving over Wati’s death. Looney and Bucks forward Sterling Brown will host a fundraiser at a local arcade, “Up Down” on Thursday evening to raise proceeds for the family of Sandra Parks, an eighth-grade student who was shot and killed on Nov. 19 by a stray bullet. Last summer, Looney also hosted a “Pause 4 Peace” rally at a local YMCA. He brought the Warriors’ 2017 championship trophy and had guest speakers addressing the importance about using non-violence to solve conflicts.
“As a young guy, you don’t like listening to adults and older people,” Looney said. “You think they’re just old and don’t know what they’re talking about. As a young guy, it seems to help when you hear somebody who is like you and has been through the same things as you.”
Looney was once that kid. Growing up, Looney’s parents required him to complete his homework and chores before he could play basketball.
“It’s guiding him through that process of life,” said Looney’s …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News