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BOYS' PREP BASKETBALL: Officials, teammates struggle with Irvin’s death (08/03)

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By Chuck Jones

By CHUCK JONES

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cjones@thenewsenterprise.com

RADCLIFF — As news spread of Cameron Irvin’s death, North Hardin school officials and Irvin’s teammates on the Trojan basketball team were having a hard time coming to grips with his untimely passing.

Irvin, 16, was killed Saturday night and three others were injured after they were struck by a vehicle while riding bikes along Lincoln Trail Boulevard in Radcliff. According to Radcliff Police Chief Jeff Cross, Irvin died at the scene.

“It’s been tough,” North Hardin senior Roosevelt Emerson said. “It’s like losing a brother. The whole team is real close. I just can’t believe it.”

Emerson wasn’t alone.

Irvin, who played two years on the basketball team, was always there to pick his teammates up with a joke or his “ducky dance.”

“I’ll always remember him dancing,” North Hardin senior James Berry said. “He would always do that dance. He would just try to make everyone laugh. He liked to talk and to have fun.”

That was the consensus of his teammates. Emerson also talked about how Irvin always wanted his teammates to have a good time.

“If you needed to laugh, Cameron would try to get you to laugh or make a joke,” Emerson said. “We had a lot of good times. I don’t know how we’re going to get through it.”

Berry, who was in Lexington on Saturday, said he received a phone call from teammate Nigel Phelps on Saturday night. Berry said he had a bad feeling as soon as he saw Phelps’ number show up on his cell phone.

“When Nigel calls me – he usually just texts me – so when he calls me I know he needs to ask me something or he wants to tell me something,” Berry said. “He said Cameron had died. I didn’t believe that. It was totally unexpected. You don’t expect that to happen, especially to someone like Cameron.”

Berry said he saw Irvin working out in the gym Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, the two sent several text messages back and forth.

“It’s hard to believe he’s gone,” Berry said. “I just saw him the other day in the gym when I was there shooting. I didn’t know that was going to be the last time I saw him.”

On Sunday, Irvin’s teammates and school officials recalled not only what a good basketball player he was, but what a good person he was.

North Hardin principal Bill Dennison said Irvin had a great personality. He said Irvin was always well-behaved and very respectful.

“Anytime you lose someone from your school, it affects everyone,” Dennison said. “When something like this happens, it affects the kids, the faculty and the staff. It’s going to affect the community in a lot of ways. It’s a tragedy. It’s a difficult time for all of us.”

North Hardin basketball coach Ron Bevars said Irvin could always be found in the gym working on his game. He said Irvin, who started last season at guard, had improved during the summer and Bevars said Irvin was going to have an outstanding year.

Although this is a major loss to the Trojan basketball team, Bevars said it’s a bigger loss to the school and community.

“He was a joy to be around,” Bevars said. “He was a very coachable kid. He was just a great kid. A lot of that comes from his parents. I think that’s why he was really popular. There’s not enough adjectives to describe the kid. It doesn’t make sense. It’s a tragedy.”

Dennison said the youth service center, which is open year-round, will have counseling available for students who need to talk through Irvin’s death.

The school also was talking about having a memorial service for Irvin, but Dennison said no plans had been finalized.

Chuck Jones can be reached at 505-1759