Price remembered:Legendary Gentry basketball coach dies over weekendBy BY RECARDO THOMAS STAFF REPORTER,
The final buzzer has sounded on the life of another beloved Sunflower County resident.
Sunflower County Consolidated School District teacher and basketball coach Kirk Edward Price passed away on Saturday night leaving a void that many say will be hard to fill.
The 1983 Gentry High graduate, long-time coach and mentor has impacted the lives of countless children and adults during his lifetime. Gentry High School basketball coach Chico Potts said Price was more than a coach and his “year-round right-hand man,” he as family.
Potts said that with Price by his side he didn’t have to worry about his team’s defensive strategy because Price was “defensive minded” and that gave him the opportunity to concentrate on offense. Potts credits Price’s efforts as being the reason Gentry is known around the state as, “one helluva defensive playing team,” Potts said.
Although the two had only worked together since Potts took on the head coaching position, Potts said he remembers Price from his days on the court when he (Potts) was playing for Coach Elmo Higgingbottom.
“When I first started playing or trying to play basketball is when I was first introduced to Kirk Price,” Potts said.
According to Potts, Price was one of the persons that Higgingbottom kept along with the team to mentor and guide the players.
So, when he was called to lead the Rams team, “There was no question who I wanted to be right along my side,” said Potts.
He said there wasn’t much that Price didn’t know and the players were just drawn to him.
Potts said when he heard of Price’s death he immediately thought about the players and reached out to them because he would rather they heard it from him than on social media.
Potts is not the only fan Price has.
He scored points with other members of the staff and the players as well.
First-year coach Edward Thomas said he has known price for over 20 years, since he was in third grade, and had the opportunity to play for him starting in the sixth grade.
He attributes his association with the sport and his subsequently becoming a coach to words received from Price.
“He gave a lot of kids in Inverness hope,” Thomas said.
He called Price a leader on and off the court whose philosophy was,
“Never quit in life on anything you’re doing.” Thomas said Price had a way of bringing the best out of a person.
Gentry’s baseball coach Timothy Holmes said he has known Price for over 30 years and they were like brothers.
“He’s one that really hit me hard when he left here. With him gone I’m missing a brother, a friend and someone I could confide in.” Senior guard Shamarvious Hodges said the athletic leader was full of energy, “He gave the team life,” he said.
Basketball forward Markevious Hodges called his experience with Price “fun times.”
The Gentry player said he first met Price when he was 6-years-old playing pee-wee football. Hodges, who plays on the football team, said he began playing basketball because Price told him he needed something to do in the off-season to keep him busy.
He said Price simply told him to be at practice.
“I never thought I would be playing basketball, he’s a motivational guy,” Hodges said.
He fondly remembers trying to mimic the skills he saw the other players doing and Price immediately asked him what he was attempting to do and remarked,
“You can’t even play dead in a cowboy movie,” which was apparently one of his favorite expressions.
Senior shooting guard Bryant Smith is also Price’s first cousin and he said Price is the one who encouraged him to play basketball.
He remembers his games of “21” with his cousin and how he would remind Price that he was a “shooter” only to have Price respond, “You can be a shooter, but I need a shot-maker on my team.”
He said Price could always make you smile even when you were feeling sad.
“I’m just hurting, he’s a big part of this team,” Smith said.
Facebook was abuzz over the weekend with comments following the announcement of the Inverness native’s demise.
His players were not the only ones expressing their grief. Indianola resident Shequite Johnson extolled on the positive influence Price had on the life of her son Semaj Attaway.
She characterized her son as being hyperactive, which sometimes landed him in trouble at school, however she gave Price points for being the one who could get him to toe the line.
She said he spent time with Semaj not just during school hours, but on weekends too and her son has a great deal of respect for him.
Brian Hargrove, a friend and fellow SCCSD employee said he too has known Price for a little over 20 years and he has always helped children reach their fullest potential on and off the basketball court.
Hargrove said Price first noticed him while he was operating the clock at the Gentry basketball games as a young man and took him under his wing.
“Kirk was the same person every time you encountered him. When I was at my lowest he called me nearly every day and made sure I was alright. I will truly miss him and I offer my condolences to the Price family,” Hargrove said.
Fellow Inverness resident Leronda Sibley, whose son was a part of one of Price’s many championship teams growing up, cited a quote that stated in essence that it’s not what’s poured into a student that counts, but what’s planted in them.
She praised Price as a “planter.” She said, “He planted wisdom, knowledge, understanding, love and laughter.”
Helpful, family-oriented and positive with a knack for always being able to make everybody laugh is the way his sister, Demetria Price describes him.
Demetria said her brother had a love and passion for children and the community and was committed to providing more activities for the town's youth.
A father of six, with 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, Price was one of eight children himself, having four sisters and three brothers.
He was also known for his witty remarks, his most repeated being, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” And whenever a child got into trouble it was always, “Okay, we've got a situation.”
His sister said he will be remembered as a people person always planning and providing activities for children in the community.
Price had attended Mississippi Delta Community College and was earning an online degree from Ashford University where he was expected to graduate in May.
In addition to his coaching prowess he also played basketball and softball having spent a short stint playing basketball overseas. Potts said they have plans to honor and pay tribute to Price because he will always be a part of Gentry’s team.
Services for the community friend are scheduled for Saturday Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. in the Gentry High School gymnasium with a repast scheduled for the school’s cafeteria.
The Rev. W.T. McCormick will officiate.