DRIVEN ON BY A TRAGEDY

When your mum is gone — that never leaves you

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - MATT LOGUE

JAE’SEAN Tate only has to look at his left leg for a re­minder of the day his mother was stabbed to death. Tat­tooed in black and bold let­ters on Syd­ney Kings power for­ward is “Cori”, a per­ma­nent trib­ute to Tate’s mum, who was mur­dered in Toledo, Ohio, when he was only 10.

A day rarely passes when he doesn’t re­call the mo­ment, as a young boy, when he pleaded with her not to leave his side as she left for a birth­day week­end away.

Just days later, Tate went to meet his mother and walked into a haze of po­lice sirens — he was sat down by his grand­fa­ther and told his mother had been mur­dered by her boyfriend.

“When you find out that your mum is gone — that is just some­thing that never leaves you,” Tate, 23, still emo­tional when retelling the tragedy to The Sun­day Tele­graph.

“One day mum was there and the next she was gone. It was crazy. It was her birth­day week­end and I re­mem­ber not want­ing her to leave.

“I re­mem­ber say­ing to mum, ‘don’t go’ and my grand­par­ents lit­er­ally had to drag me back into the car.

“Mum kept say­ing, ‘you’ll be fine and I’ll only be away for a few days’.

When Tate and his fam­ily hadn’t heard from her, they went over to the house where she was stay­ing. “There were cops ev­ery­where. My grand­fa­ther came over to me and said, ‘She is gone’.”

LIFE with­out his mother hit Tate hard. He spent most of his school years in and out of psy­chol­o­gist clin­ics. The fear and un­cer­tainty kept Tate from talk­ing about his mother’s death un­til his last year of col­lege at Ohio State in 2018.

“I just wanted to help peo­ple in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions by shar­ing my story, so they knew they weren’t alone,” he said.

“I feel like ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a rea­son. I lost my mum but I learnt so much and be­came a bet­ter per­son.

“I miss my mum ev­ery day but you also have to look at the pos­i­tives. I have her name and a pic­ture of a key rep­re­sent­ing her last name tat­tooed on my leg, so she is with me all the time. There isn’t a day when I don’t glance down at my leg.”

As the old­est of four kids, Tate also feels com­pelled to set a strong ex­am­ple for his younger sib­lings.

With his fa­ther play­ing bas­ket­ball overseas in Croa­tia and Ja­pan, Tate moved in with his dad Jer­maine shortly af­ter his mother’s death to be­come “the man of the house”.

“My step­mum also had to work, so it was on me to be a leader and look af­ter my sib­lings,” he said. “I found it hard and I got into a lot of trou­ble. I was get­ting a lot of coun­selling to cope with mum’s death.”

Tate played bas­ket­ball and foot­ball to re­lease some of the anger.

“It took me a cou­ple of years to get ad­justed. But I’m blessed be­cause where I come from — a lot of peo­ple don’t make it as far as I have.

“That is es­pe­cially the case with ev­ery­thing that is go­ing on in the States right now with gun vi­o­lence.

“It is a re­ally messed up sit­u­a­tion. I think there has to be b a line li b be­tween pro­tect­ing your­self and pro­tect­ing ev­ery­one else.

“I feel a lot safer in Aus­tralia, put it that way. It is why you have to be grate­ful for the time you are here.”

IN his short time in Syd­ney, Tate has im­pressed for the Kings, high­lighted by 16 points and 7 re­bounds in last week­end’s 22-point win over Ade­laide. But he con­cedes he could have been a Bris­bane Bul­let this sea­son.

“The Bul­lets were keen, but I felt like Syd­ney re­ally wanted me,” he said. “They blew up my phone with calls while I was play­ing in Bel­gium (with the Antwerp Giants).

“I was also get­ting calls from Bogut say­ing, ‘let’s get this done’.

“It gave me that col­lege of­fer kind of feel when you have teams send­ing you emails and scout­ing you. Plus, it was ex­cit­ing to join a team with a new coach­ing staff. I wanted to be a part of that.

“I al­ways try and look at the glass be­ing half full — that is what mum would have wanted.”

Jae’Sean Tate as a brighteyed tod­dler (far left), the tat­too on his leg fea­tur­ing his mother’s name, Cori (left); and play­ing for the Syd­ney Kings.

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