Athletic Voice: Kerr is a role model

by KIT B. FASSLER

It’s basketball season. So it’s time to remember Wildcat Steve Kerr, a legendary name and one of Arizona’s fan favorites. Kerr became such a popular athlete due to his leadership and long range shooting.

Kerr received a scholarship to attend the University of Arizona and started his freshman year in the fall of 1983 and graduated in 1988.

Kerr’s father, Malcolm Kerr, was the president at the American University in Beirut. In 1984, an Islamic terrorist shot the back of his head in the hallway outside his office.

Two days after Kerr’s father died, the Wildcats played against Arizona State University. He decided to play to honor his commitment to the game even after the huge loss of his father. Kerr helped the university reach the 1988 NCAA Final Four, playing along with Sean Elliott, Tom Tolbert and Kenny Lofton.

After graduating from college, Kerr played for NBA teams, including the Chicago Bulls, with Michael Jordan as a teammate, and also the San Antonio Spurs.

It was proven that Kerr rose above the tragedy he experienced in life. He worked as team president of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and partnered with Marv Albert, broadcasting NBA games for Turner Network Television.

At the age of 50, Steve Kerr coached the Golden State Warriors playing for the NBA title against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Learning from his past coaches, he understood that coaching is 90 percent working on creating a team environment and 10 percent strategy.

Immediately after winning his first NBA title as coach, he thanked his former University of Arizona coach Lute Olson and other coaches Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich.

As the new season begins, Kerr is taking a leave of absence. Kerr underwent surgery on his back in July and had another follow up surgery in September. He decided to focus more on rehabilitation before resuming his role as the head coach.

My family has been an avid fan of Kerr. Charlene, my eldest, was only one year old when we started watching Kerr play in 1983. When the Chicago Bulls played against the Cleveland Cavaliers in San Francisco, Charlene, now 33, bought a ticket. She was ecstatic watching the game and the reaction of Kerr after winning.

Kerr taught us that in spite of adversities, we need to focus on the positive and move forward. He valued his training from mentors and coaches, including his experiences with people from diverse backgrounds. He didn’t forget where he came from. Arizona will always remember Steve Kerr, a true leader. Bear down!

 

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