Georgetown Die-Hard an Integral Part of Fan Base
Published: Friday, March 19, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 00:01
Kent Boone remembers the shot like it was yesterday. It happened in a December high school game over seven years ago, but Boone still has it on instant replay in his mind.
His son Chavis caught a pass and immediately rose up for a three-pointer right in front of where Boone was sitting. As soon as the ball fell through the net, the proud father knew that Mount Vernon would win the biggest game of his son's life.
The contest was not for a championship and didn't affect the league standings, but it meant the world to Boone to watch Chavis, a senior who would soon be diagnosed with bone cancer, score 11 second-half points to lead his team to victory.
"It was packed in there. Man, it brought tears to my eyes," Boone recalls before providing the play-by-play to his mental highlight.
Chavis could only play in four games that season and lost his life to cancer less than two years later, but his father keeps his memory alive through their shared love of basketball.
A die-hard Georgetown fan since the 1980s, Boone is dressed from head to toe in Hoya gear for every game and coaches at the Georgetown's summer basketball camp for kids. Everything he does, from his custom-made Hoyas hat to his work as a basketball coach, is dedicated to Chavis.
"Basketball was our biggest thing to do together," Boone says. "When I'm working at the camp or I'm at Georgetown games, I dedicate it to him and that gives me a lot of comfort. It's a blessing in itself, and it helps me keep going."
One day at the basketball camp, Boone used his experience to teach his team a lesson of strength in the face of adversity. His team was down 20 points when another staff member walked by and began joking about the mountain they had to climb.
"I said I've been down before - my son - I've been down before and always came back," Boone recalls. "I huddled up with my kids and I said, `Kids, we're down right now. I know you heard that. Now you have to dig down deep inside yourself and be scrappy.'"
His team came back to win the game, and Boone felt the same pride he once had watching his son play.
"When I went home I was on a cloud," he says. "I was like, `Thank you, Chavis.'"
Boone has been playing basketball his entire life, but he got his coaching start in baseball when a group of kids didn't have a coach. Others around the league called the kids "leftovers," but Boone took them on and led them to the championship.
"I said if I can raise Chavis, let me see if I can do 10 more, and it worked," he says.
Boone has always had a soft spot for the younger kids, and he began checking out books from the library on coaching Little League. He also learned as he watched his son at basketball clinics around the area.
Basketball opened doors for Chavis and his father, who still keeps notes written to the two from coaches including George Mason's Jim Larranaga, Minnesota's Tubby Smith and DeMatha legend Morgan Wootten.
Under the tutelage of the area's finest basketball minds, Chavis blossomed as a basketball player and Boone took bits and pieces from each coach to add to his own coaching style.
Chavis played point guard and shooting guard and was one of Virginia's top three-point shooters, according to Boone. He was a fundamental player with a quiet confidence preferring to let his play do the talking when an opponent started jawing with him and a favorite of his teammates, occasionally doing flips to keep them loose.
"He was a playmaker and a complete player, grabbing rebounds, giving up assists, making good passes," explains Boone, who still displays his son's trophies and has his old jerseys in a frame. "It was unbelievable. I was really in awe of him."
Chavis played on the Rising Stars AAU team, and Boone keeps a binder of his son's press clippings that mark his high school achievements.
Boone also keeps a video tape of a 1997 Thanksgiving tournament that Chavis played in with Georgetown point guard Chris Wright and Wright's older brother. The coach of the team was Wright's father, Orlando, another individual who contributed to Boone's piecemeal coaching acumen.
"[Chavis] was a very good guy and a very easy-going guy," Chris Wright remembers. "He was disciplined, but he liked to have fun. He was like any other kid. We all remember him and he lives through Kent Boone."
When Chavis was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2002, his father was shocked and devastated. He even found coaching to be difficult.
"In my personal life, it was hard to move forward and to coach again, to give back what I gave him because you lost all of that," Boone says.
But as time passed, Boone realized that coaching basketball could help heal his wounds. He submitted a basketball résumé to Georgetown's summer camp, detailing the various clinics he had worked.
"It's a blessing for them to let me work at the camp, to be a part of something. When I work at the camp I just dedicate it to Chavis," says Boone, who has been a counselor at the camp for several years now. "I've always just fell in love with Georgetown, and I guess they fell in love with me."
Both campers and coaches often joke with Boone that he is always sweating at the camp, but he takes it in stride. When he gets to McDonough in the morning, the gym fills Boone with energy and he has to start hoisting jump shots.
"It has to be Chavis' spirit," Boone says about the energy he feels. "My son, he's driving me."