The deaths of Pascagoula athletes Brandon Rich and Caleb Sweeten was a blow to the entire Jackson County community, and that includes Moss Point star basketball player Devin Booker.
Rich and Sweeten died May 5 in a water-skiing accident on the Pascagoula River.
Rich was a member of the Pascagoula High School basketball team that reached the state semifinals in Jackson three years in a row.
Rich and Booker, who is considered one of the top prospects in the nation, often went head-to-head on the basketball court.
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Pascagoula coach Tony Combs usually gave Rich the tough assignment of defending Booker.
"He was one of the best defenders to guard me," Booker said. "I had respect for him and he had respect for me. His mother told me yesterday that he respected me so much. Basketball was the sport he loved, but he wanted to go play football because that was what was the best for him."
Rich signed a football scholarship with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and coaches planned to play him at cornerback there.
Booker wrote a blog for USA Today earlier this month describing his reaction to the deaths of Rich and Sweeten. To read the piece, click on the link to the right.