KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first Morris Letcher Basketball Classic was held at Eisenhower Middle School Saturday, in support of Kansas City, Kansas, Assistant Fire Chief Morris Letcher.
“I’m one of Morris’ former players, as you saw there’s a lot of us here," organizer Brian "BJ" Johnson said. "He’s also a mentor to me."
Letcher coached at Eisenhower Middle School, Sumner Academy and Piper High School over the years, but a basketball coach wasn't his only title. He's also a 21-year veteran of of the KCK Fire Department.
Letcher spent his life helping others and now he's receiving that same support.
“It’s kind of emotional day just seeing how much the kids care about him, us as a family," Toyea Letcher, Morris Letcher's wife said.
In early 2020, Letcher was diagnosed with a severe case of pancreatitis and gallstones that kept him in the hospital for months.
“What a lot of people don’t know, (is) the facility where he was before he came home had deemed him un-skillable, basically they had given up on him, they didn’t expect him to get out of bed at all," Toyea Letcher said.
Letcher also suffered a stroke and has been on a long road to recovery.
“You know I thought my situation was bad, but I’ve seen a bunch of people at rehab that are in a worse situation than I am," Morris Letcher said. "I’m just hanging in there and trying to live every day I can with my family as much as I can."
Not knowing Saturday's event was for him, Toyea Letcher told 41 Action News it was a struggle getting her husband to attend.
The Morris Letcher Basketball Classic was the first fundraiser of its kind organized by former players to support Letcher, his family and help pay for medical expenses.
“You never know how much you touch people's lives until something like this happens or you have a funeral which you can’t see, but this is beautiful," Morris Letcher said.
While much has changed over the years and his players have all grown up, Letcher still had the same smile on his face as he watched his team go up and down the court.
“I wanted to just tell everybody to make sure they touch people in a positive way, because you never know who you’re touching or how you touch them, because I was just going out being me on a daily basis," Morris Letcher said.