By Carlena Knight
Family, friends and colleagues will bid their final respects to former prison officer and sports personality Ryves “Keewa” Merchant, who died suddenly in April and will be laid to rest on Friday.
It is reported that the Gray’s Farm man was on duty at Her Majesty’s Prison on April 23 when he complained of feeling ill. He was taken to hospital where he died shortly after.
Acting Superintendent of Prisons, Jermaine Anthony, shared that his colleague and friend was very special, describing him as dependable, punctual and very upbeat.
Merchant, who was also a former national basketballer, played for several local teams from the Grays Green community to include West Express, Fast Brothers, Survivors and Braves in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
He was also former basketball coach in the Ministry of Sports for several years and was attached to schools like Old Road Primary, SR Olivia David Primary, Jennings Primary and Secondary, Urlings Primary, and Antigua State College.
Sports Minister Daryll Matthew posted a brief tribute to Merchant saying, “you were my first coach in Golden Grove, and your contribution to the sport of basketball has been phenomenal. Rest well my brother”.
Meanwhile, Senator Mary Claire Hurst, who also a part of the ‘Table Officials’ body in local basketball, took to social media to express her condolences to Merchant’s family.
Carl ‘Bowlie’ Knight, former national point guard who played alongside Merchant on the national basketball team, the Bulldogs, and worked alongside him in the Ministry of Sports, also had some kind words about his longtime friend and colleague.
Merchant, who resided in Parham, is survived by his wife and son.
The funeral service will be held at the Spring Gardens Moravian Church from 10am and interment will be at the public cemetery.