Courtesy of NYDailyNews.com
BY IAN BEGLEY
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Andre (Pop) Davidson died suddenly from a congenital heart condition five months ago, but the former JFK basketball player's memory was alive and well last week in the JFK gymnasium.
Prior to the Knights' boys basketball team's season opener against Truman, the school held an hour-long tribute in memory of the JFK grad. According to some of the more than 250 students, teachers and administrators on hand for the "Pop Rally," Davidson left an indelible mark on his school and community.
Coach Johnny Mathis and his players have dedicated the season to Davidson, who started as a small forward last season. After the rally, the
emotional Knights rolled past Truman, 79-58, in their PSAL season opener.
"We're going to try and do our best for Pop," Mathis told the crowd during the pregame rally. "We're not even talking about going to the Garden (for the PSAL championship game); we're talking about Glens Falls (site of the State Federation championship game)."
The Knights say Davidson's memory will serve as motivation this winter. They honored their fallen teammate with a sizzling first week. They started by defeating both Eagle Academy and Manhattan Center by more than 20 points. On Saturday, the Knights earned a 71-62 overtime win over Brooklyn ‘AA' power Boys & Girls at St. Francis College in the PSAL Tip-off Challenge.
"We talk about doing this for him, because we were all close like a family," guard Jeffrey Arzu said after the Truman win.
The degree of Davidson's impact on his teammates and classmates at Kennedy was apparent to everyone in the gym on Tuesday.
Pictures of Davidson and huge "POP" posters lined the gym walls during the pep rally, organized by Kennedy's Senior Leadership Council.
Davidson's white No. 23 jersey hung from the rim and his black Brand Jordan high-tops hung from the behind the backboard, with the laces slung over the bracket that fixes the board to the ceiling.
Both the boys and girls varsity and junior varsity programs huddled under the jersey toward the end of the rally, screaming "We ready!" and "R.I.P. P.O.P." under the rim, some wiping tears from their faces.
"He was a do-anything-for-anybody type of kid," JFK athletic director James Cunningham said of Davidson. "Kids see a lot negative things happen inside and outside of this school. (Davidson) was something positive, and it's tough to lose that."