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June 8, 2010 > Basketball team wins for fallen teammate

Basketball team wins for fallen teammate

Submitted By Larry Salas

One month ago, the Hayward and surrounding communities were devastated by the death of a 17-year-old promising, multi-sport athlete Sam Nava III. He was in line to graduate from Hayward High School this month in front of his friends and family; unfortunately attending his funeral instead.

Nava played varsity baseball for his school and AAU varsity basketball for his church parish with some of his elementary and middle schoolmates from St. Clement School of Hayward coached by Larry Salas.

Participating in local tournaments over the past few months and developing a very close family team had us looking towards the future. Our St. Clements team was signed up and looking forward to playing in the AAU Reno Memorial Day Tournament, "Jam On It" at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center. It's a very impressive venue with top talent from California, Nevada and Idaho.

The devastating loss of our beloved teammate and friend has made time stop for all of us, with a very difficult grieving period that will never end. I had literally forgotten about the tournament. My son Larry Jr. (Moreau Catholic) approached me and said, "Dad, I talked to the team and we are going to win the Reno tournament for Sam."

With the very noble gesture and heavy hearts, our team played with the intensity that Sam has given the team over and over again. We defeated Redding United, 62-50; Valley Vipers, 70-62; and Ujima Jaguars, 75-50, in a very physical game sending Joaquin Rabelo of Moreau Catholic to the hospital with six stitches, to advance to the championship game against the Siskiyou Slam.

Roy Nelson of Leadership/Moreau Catholic led the scoring with 19 points which included two monster slam dunks; Treshawn Soriano of Lincoln High hit an NBA 3-pointer with six seconds left to send the game into overtime; and Lenny Nieto of California High hit a difficult 12-foot jumper from the side in the second overtime to win, 63-61, claiming the Varsity Boys AAU tournament championship.

It was a total team effort. Very exciting: blood, sweat and tears were given by everyone. The love and respect we all have for Sam was very heartwarming and emotional in a moment of pure exhilaration and joy; emotions that we will all carry with us for the rest of our lives. Rest in paradise Sam Nava III: we love you.

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