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Bobby Phills: The Story Of His Untimely Death To His Son's Inspiring Journey To Make The NBA

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Bobby Phills: The Story Of His Untimely Death To His Son's Inspiring Journey To Make The NBA

Tragedy sometimes hits the brightest people. It doesn't matter how rich, or how poor you are.

It doesn't matter if you're famous or if you work at the fast-food restaurant down the street.

Sometimes, things happen. And sometimes they're not good things. This is the case of NBA player Bobby Phills.

Before we move to the tragedy, let's focus on the most important part of Bobby Phills… his life.

Bobby Phills was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on December 20, 1969. He attended Southern University, which is in Baton Rouge.

By his senior year, Phills was averaging 28.4 points per game. He led the NCAA in three-point field goals made with 4.4 per game as a senior.

Phills' finished his college career averaging 17.0 points per game, but he was known for being more than a scorer and three-point shooter.

Phills was a terrific defender, a trait he'd take with him to the NBA.

By the time the 1991 NBA Draft came around, teams weren't jumping to draft Phills. The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Phills with the 18th pick in the 2nd round. He was the 45th pick overall.

The excitement of being drafted to the NBA would quickly fade, as Phills would never play a game for the Bucks. They released him in December 1991.

After his initial failure in the NBA, Phills would play basketball in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before returning to the NBA late in the 1991-92 season.

Phills would sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he'd play six seasons in Cleveland, averaging 10.5 points per game.

Phills' points may have not been high, and his steals, at 1.2 per game, may have not have led the league, but Phills played solid defense.

His one-on-one defense was tough and players around the league recognized it, including a certain G.O.A.T.

After a game against the Cavaliers in 1996, Michael Jordan stated that Phills was one of the toughest defenders he's ever played against.

Phills' tough defense earned him a selection to the All-Defensive Second Team in the 1995-96 season.

After six years in Cleveland, Phills would play for the Charlotte Hornets, where his defense continued to give opponents fits.

Phills was an important part to any team. His defense, the ability to hit the three-ball, and the intangibles he brought, were valuable.

If the Hornets could have added more pieces, or if Phills could've signed with a championship contender, he could have been the difference-maker.

Unfortunately, for the NBA and its fans, we would never be able to see if this was true…

On January 12, 2000, Phills was out driving his Porsche at a high speed.

He was following Hornets' teammate, David Wesley, who was also speeding.

Suddenly, Phills' Porsche veered into oncoming traffic and crashed into two other vehicles.

The drivers' of the two other vehicles survived, but Phills would be pronounced dead at the scene.

For his role in the accident, David Wesley was charged and convicted of reckless driving.

On February 9, 2000, in a game against Phills' former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hornets retired his number 13 jersey.

When the Hornets changed to the Bobcats, the number 13 was available to use once again. Then, when the Bobcats changed back to the Hornets, they re-retired Bobby Phills' number.

Bobby’s wife, and mother of his two kids, Kendall Phills, had this to say about the incident:

“That morning, I didn't get to tell Bobby goodbye. He just left, and I didn't hug him, I didn't tell him that I loved him. It was just a typical day.”

Kendall Phills went on to add:

“The firemen wouldn't let me go near his body. So I pleaded with the guy, 'Look I have to say my final goodbye.' He let me go, I held his hand, and I prayed with him. And I let him know I was going to take care of his kids.”

Kendall would take care of Bobby's kids, including his son, Bobby Ray Phills III, known as Trey.

Trey was only three when his father passed away. At the funeral service, young Trey stood in front of hundreds of mourners and pulled at their heartstrings.

Kendall said to Trey: “Tell everybody where Daddy is.”

Trey responded by saying:

“Daddy is in heaven with the angels.”

Trey would follow in his father's footsteps and play basketball. He'd play college ball for the Yale Bulldogs.

Trey only averaged 6.8 points per game, but to see him follow in his father's footsteps was a heartwarming sight to see.

Trey helped lead Yale to two tournament births in 2016 and 2019. In 2019, Yale defeated rival, Harvard, to reach the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s crazy when you think about it,” Trey said. “Our class of 2019 was the first one I think in history to go to two NCAA Tournaments. It was real fun getting back to the tournament, beating Harvard in the (Ivy League) championship game, just the storybook.”

Now, Trey tried to make the NBA like his father. He would be invited to work out for the Charlotte Hornets, the team his father last played for, in the summer of 2019.

When Trey entered the Hornets arena, he saw photos of his father up on the wall. This moment stuck with him:

“I got goosebumps right now,” Trey said. “Me and my uncle, we used to work out here since I was like 12 or 13 years old… Just to be back in here after I graduated from Yale was just really special.”

Even going into the workout with the Hornets, Trey understood where his future in the NBA lay:

“I’m not expecting to get drafted,” Trey said. “But, I’m just working to go undrafted or go wherever so I’m going to keep working and keep climbing.”

Trey wouldn't make the Hornets roster, nor another team's roster. He'd go on to the NBA G League.

Trey played one season for the Greensboro Swarm, the G League affiliate to the Charlotte Hornets. He'd average 4.0 points per game.

This year, Trey is playing overseas in a Denmark basketball league. Maybe one day he'll play in the NBA, just like his father.


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