KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Student athletes at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, brought home championships across multiple sports in honor of a classmate who has been fighting for his life.
Israel Gentry, a junior running back for the Blue Tigers, was involved in a single-vehicle crash one day before district playoffs last year. The team still took the field and won.
“I know he would want to be on the court on the field giving maximum effort,” said Edrico Gilliam, a senior and boy’s basketball captain.
Other athletes have built off the momentum of the football team going 11-0 and playing in a district championship game. Ryan Glasgow, athletic director and boy’s basketball coach, said the school also had state-qualifying wrestlers compete in Columbia, and the girl’s and boy’s basketball teams won district championships on the same night.
“I think it’s important to give them the boost that they need,” Glasgow said, “and let everybody know what’s going on down here and how important it is to these kids in this community.”
Ajanee Bradley, A Lincoln College Prep Academy senior who also is one of three captains on the girl’s basketball team, said that since football season, everyone has been more “family oriented.”
“We’ve all been closer than usual,” Bradley said.
Chorus Davis, a junior and fellow captain on the girl’s basketball team, said all of the students are keeping in touch with Gentry’s family.
“We just make sure we’re not letting him down,” Davis said.
Bradley said she thinks Gentry would be proud of how the athletes are playing for him.
“You can see somebody you’ve been going to school with one day and then the next day to know that they could be gone,” Bradley said.
Boy’s Basketball Captain JT Washington said the team has more “positive energy” and the “right morale.”
“A lot of people doubted us this year and what we could do and they didn’t really think we could make it this far,” Washington, a senior, said.
The girl’s basketball team takes on Kearney Tuesday at 6 p.m. for sectionals, and the boy’s basketball team plays St. Joe Lafayette at 8 p.m.
A GoFundMe has been created to assist Gentry's family with medical expenses.