Com­mu­nity mourns as high school star dies in bike ac­ci­dent

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - Y LANGSTON WERTZ JR. lw­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

A for­mer Meck­len­burg County high school bas­ket­ball star was killed in a bi­cy­cle ac­ci­dent early Satur­day morn­ing, and the lo­cal bas­ket­ball com­mu­nity is stunned.

Mikey Mad­dox, who played at Rocky River High School and at Vance, was 18. He was hit on Old Con­cord Road in north­east Char­lotte about 1 a.m. Mad­dox was pro­nounced dead at the scene.

Mad­dox played travel bas­ket­ball in the sum­mer of 2017 for Team United, a Nike af­fil­i­ated pro­gram, and be­fore that he played for Team Char­lotte, which plays on the Un­der Ar- mour cir­cuit. Both pro­grams are lo­cally based.

Mad­dox is the sec­ond lo­cal player to die in the past four months. In May, a player at Char­lotte’s Lib­erty Heights School, James Hamp­ton, col­lapsed and died while play­ing for Team United’s sum­mer travel team at a tour­na­ment in Vir­ginia.

“I kept ask­ing, ‘Is this true. Is this true,’” said Jer­maine Walker, who coached Mad­dox at Rocky River. “This kid was loved by his peers. There are kids that I’ve coached and worked with that I haven’t seen in awhile and they are call­ing me. It’s amaz­ing how much he was loved.”

Walker was asleep Satur­day when his phone rang at 2 a.m. It was the mother of a player he had coached at Kennedy Char­ter. Her son was good friends with Mad­dox. She tried to tell him the news.

Walker an­swered but fell back asleep be­fore he could process any­thing. His phone rang again. “I couldn’t go back to bed,” Walker said later Satur­day morn­ing. “I’ve not been back to sleep. Maybe an hour later, all my play­ers started call­ing.”

Mad­dox, who was 5foot-11, av­er­aged 11 points and two as­sists as a ju­nior at Rocky River in the 2016-17 sea­son. He also re­ceived an of­fer from South­ern Mis­sis­sippi, Walker said.

Walker said Mad­dox was one of the most ath­letic play­ers he’d ever seen.

“As far as pure tal­ent,” he said, “not bas­ket­ball, but pure ath­leti­cism, I’ve never seen any­thing like it. He played above the rim. He had quick­ness. He could do flips with­out us­ing his hands. I’ve not coached any­one with that type of ath­leti­cism for his size. He was very, very gifted.”

Walker left Rocky River be­fore the 2017-18 school year, and Mad­dox also left. Walker said Mad­dox trans­ferred to Har­grave Mil­i­tary Acad­emy in Chatham, Va. Walker said he left Har- grave in mid­sea­son and trans­ferred to a school in Hous­ton, Texas.

Jeff McIn­nis, the for­mer UNC and NBA point guard, coached Mad­dox on his Team Char­lotte travel teams.

McIn­nis said sev­eral col­leges were in touch with Mad­dox and check­ing his aca­demic progress. Mad­dox, he said, was go­ing to do a prep school year at Lib­erty Heights and then play col­lege bas­ket­ball in the 2019-20 sea­son.

“He played for Team Char­lotte for a cou­ple of years and it didn’t work out,” McIn­nis said. “We stayed in con­tact and talked ev­ery month. I was try­ing to help him get through life. Man, he had got­ten on the right track. That’s the sad­dest part in all of this. He was do­ing so good, and to get hit by a car.”

McIn­nis’ voice trailed off, then he con­tin­ued, say­ing Mad­dox played for the Juice All-Stars travel team last sum­mer.

Like Walker, McIn­nis said “ev­ery­body loved Mikey.”

Walker said Mad­dox will be deeply missed.

“He lived with me, off and on,” Walker said, “and for me, it’s al­ways big­ger than bas­ket­ball. I wanted the kid to be a pro­duc­tive cit­i­zen. I’ve been think­ing all morn­ing and not one thought has been about bas­ket­ball. My big­gest prayer is that he found God. That’s what I’ve been think­ing about, about God.”

HON­OR­ING MIKEY

A “hoop ses­sion” will be held Sun­day at 1 p.m. at Reedy Creek Park for friends to gather, and a bal­loon re­lease will be held Sun­day at 6 p.m., also at Reedy Creek.

Mikey Mad­dox

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