Former national coach remembers fallen basketballer

Elijah Armstrong
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By Carlena Knight

Former national basketball coach Elijah Armstrong paid his respects to one of his former players, Ryves Merchant, who died last weekend.

It is being reported that the Gray’s Farm resident, a prison officer, complained of feeling ill on Friday while he was on duty at Her Majesty’s Prison. He was taken to the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) where he later pronounced died.

There has been no confirmation on the cause of death but the news of his passing has plunged the country into a state of shock as many knew him for his cheerful personality and insurmountable skill on the ball court.

Merchant played for a number of local teams hailing from the Grays Green community to include West Express, Fast Brothers, Survivors and Braves in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

He also played on the national senior team, the Bulldogs, for several years with coach Armstrong at the helm.

The decorated coach said it was a pleasure having someone like the deceased on the team.

“Ryves was such a humble and gentle giant and it was a pleasure to have coached such a great athlete. Ryves did a lot for us; you know, those things that don’t show up in the chat. He sometimes would motivate players from the sideline and in the timeouts. He was a great motivator, a great team player and a great teammate to have to play and to coach. My condolences go out to his family. We have lost a great native son in Ryves Merchant. He was a great person,” Armstrong said on the Good Morning JoJo Sports show on Wednesday.

The deceased was a former basketball coach in the Ministry of Sports for several years and was attached to schools like Old Road Primary, S R Olivia David Primary, Jennings Primary and Secondary, Urlings Primary, and Antigua State College.

Merchant, who lived in Parham, is survived by his wife and son.

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