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Hoop star had very broad shoulders

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I have spent a good part of my adult life as a basketball coach, and it was in that context that I came to know Michael Ford, who passed away last week. Soon after Michael joined my Sierra Express basketball team and along with Scott Krizman, my son Joel, and several other local kids, we played tournaments all over the U.S., including national championship tournaments in New Orleans and Cocoa Beach, Fla. Among his many heroics on the court, Michael led the team back from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit in the New Orleans national championship tournament to help the team finish ninth in the country that year. However, his greatest contribution might have been a few years later in the Florida national championship tournament. After a crushing defeat in our final game, the team retreated back to our hotel for our final afternoon together. I was inconsolable, as was my son. In an effort to lift our spirits, we headed out to the beach. To our surprise, Michael was already there, holding court with a few teammates. Within 15 minutes, the entire team was there, playing on the beach, planning our return the following year for another run at national championship. This was when everyone there — players, parents and siblings, all realized the true importance of sports — the friendships forged and memories made among players and families.  As these young teammates were growing up, it seemed that Michael was years ahead of them in both physical and emotional maturity. Game after game he put the team on his broad shoulders and delivered impossible wins against better-skilled opponents. And off the court he was the one who kept the kids’ spirits high, even after the toughest losses.  I would guess that somewhere right now Michael is practicing his free throws. When the time comes, his dad will join him for a game of horse. My money is on Michael. Leonard Iventosch, Weimar