In the wake of Texas A&M signee Tobi Oyedeji's tragic death early Sunday morning, the 17-year-old senior's teammates at Houston's Bellaire High have come up with a unique way of honoring his memory.
Graduating seniors from Bellaire and Yates High School will square off on Wednesday night in a charity basketball game benefiting Oyedeji's family. District athletic director Daryl Wade said every player on both teams will wear Oyedeji's No. 35 and Bellaire will begin the game with only four players on the floor in their fallen teammate's honor before subbing in a fifth at the first dead ball.
The decision to ask Yates to participate was a natural for Bellaire coach Bruce Glover as soon as his players brought up the idea of playing a charity game. Bellaire and Yates were ranked No. 1 in the state of Texas in their respective classes for much of this past season, but they never played against one another.
"We've received many calls from fans," Ray said. "I would be totally shocked if we don't fill the place. We have a large contingent of Texas A&M fans in Houston, and we expect them to come out. There's a lot of excitement. This is the game everyone wanted to see."
The game will be played at Houston's Delmar Fieldhouse, which seats about 5,000 fans. Tickets to the game will cost $5 apiece and referees, police officers and other workers will each donate their time for free so that the maximum amount of money goes to the Oyedeji family.
Since the game is not officially sanctioned by the Texas governing body for high school athletics, returning players from both teams will not be able to participate, nor will either school's coaches. Wade said he's looking to bring in celebrity coaches for the event, but he's not ready to give any names yet.
Among the noteworthy players who will participate in the game are a pair of guards who helped lead Yates to an undefeated season and a state championship this past season. High-scoring 6-foot-2 Joseph Young will go to Providence next year and athletic defensive stopper Brandon Peters is bound for Western Kentucky.
The charity basketball game is just one of the ways folks who knew Oyedeji are honoring his memory this week. Seniors at Bellaire wore T-shirts with his face on them and passed out commemorative ribbons at school this week.
Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon and his staff have spent most of the week in Houston with the Oyedeji family, even pitching in to cover funeral and hospital costs. The Aggies are also hoping to start the "Tobi Oyedeji Endowed Scholarship Fund" within the next few weeks.