By Carlena Knight
There were mixed emotions yesterday as family, friends and work colleagues gathered together to celebrate the life of prison officer and national basketballer Ryves Merchant who passed away suddenly in April.
The Gray’s Farm man was on duty at the national prison where he worked as an officer when he complained of feeling ill on April 23. He was taken to hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Many gathered at the Spring Gardens Moravian Church on Friday morning to remember “the gentle giant”.
Acting Superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison Jermaine Anthony shared just how special his colleague and friend Ryves ‘Kiowa’ Merchant was, noting that he “was dependable, punctual and very upbeat”.
Former teammate, colleague and fellow Grays Farm resident Bobby Joseph paid tribute to his longtime friend, referring to Merchant as “his brother” and “one of the foundation members of basketball in Grays Green”.
Echoing his sentiments were some of Merchant’s family members – Dwayne, Yola and Sanaya George – who said that ‘Brother’ used basketball as a tool to mentor, coach, nurture and shower his teams with love.
They went on to say that ‘Kiowa’ was a gentle giant who adored his family, cousins and friends globally.
“His influence would always sway those he coached into a positive light. He would do anything for those he loved without hesitation. Brother loved Greschan and Ryen with all of his heart. He will be missed but his impact on the youth will live on forever,” they said.
Merchant, who was also a former national basketballer, played for several 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 was also a basketball coach in the Ministry of Sports for several years and was attached to schools including Old Road Primary, SR Olivia David Primary, Jennings Primary and Secondary, Urlings Primary, and Antigua State College (ASC).