As reported on mercurynews.com, written by Mark Medina
MILWAUKEE – This is Kevon Looney’s hometown, where he sharpened his work ethic, formed his resiliency and inspired countless kids.
When Alexander Hamilton High School retired his No. 5 jersey on Thursday, though, Looney’s mind didn’t focus on himself, his accolades or all of his coaches and teammates attending. Nor did he think ahead to when the Warriors (17-9) play the Milwaukee Bucks (16-7) on Friday. Instead, Looney’s thoughts were with the person who wasn’t there among his friends, coaches and family members.
Wati Majeed, a longtime childhood friend, died on Oct. 14, two days before the Warriors’ season opener. Majeed, who is friends with Looney’s older brother, Kevin, died at age 28 because of complications from a seizure. Since then, Looney has masked his inner pain by remaining a dependable Warriors big man with his hard work, unassuming personality and adaptability.
“I would love for him to be here. But sadly he can’t,” Looney said in a somber moment. “So I’m going to dedicate my season to him.”
Before every game, Looney writes “R.I.P Wati” and “Long Live Wati” on his shoes. Looney then prays on his late friend’s behalf. During each game, Looney often thinks about him. So with Majeed attending every one of his prep basketball games and offering endless advice on perfecting his craft, Looney plans to return the favor.
He could not attend Majeed’s funeral because it conflicted with the Warriors’ schedule. So on Thursday, Looney visited Majeed’s gravesite to “give my goodbyes.”
Before that, both Warriors coaches and teammates saw why those at Looney’s alma mater view him so affectionately.
“Four years ago, he was playing on this court. Now here is starting at center for the Warriors,” Kerr said to the crowd. “Kevon is obviously a great basketball player. But what we appreciate about him is not just his talent, but also his dignity and the way he carries himself every day and how hard he works. He’s become a professional in a couple short years.”
Afterwards, Looney smiled and beamed at hearing those words and seeing his Warriors coaches and teammates see him proudly holding up a retired No. 5 jersey.