Monday, May 26, 2014
This Knight was right
It is Memorial Day; it is a solemn holiday in the United States, a day to honor those in the military who gave their lives for their country. And that always makes me think of Henry Lee "Trey" Prather III.
I wrote about Trey and Memorial Day two years ago, recalling my first visit to his gravesite two years earlier -- the first time I'd been there since his funeral in January 1968.
He was a good friend, a great athlete, he was from a wonderful family with a notable athletics history, and his life ended so tragically and affected me and many of my friends from Shreveport generally and Woodlawn High School specifically.
There are others from Woodlawn who died during the Vietnam War and their names, like Trey's, appear on the memorial in the center of the quadrangle at the school. They all deserve our admiration; I focus on Trey because I knew Trey.
I saved several newspaper articles and photos about Trey; obviously I've had those clippings for decades. I am sharing a few today, probably not the first time I've posted them.
The headline to this blog piece was the lead-in for the cutline on one of my favorite game-action photos of Trey. It appeared in the afternoon Shreveport Journal the day after one of his greatest games for Woodlawn; gosh, that game happened only 50 years ago.
It was a basketball game -- not football, in which he was the Class AAA All-State quarterback -- and it was against our arch-rival, Byrd High, and it was a game we did not win (we did not win many in basketball). But Trey was magnificent, the best player on the court that night.
He had 18 points, although one of my closest friends, Ken Liberto, was our top scorer with 20. Funny how opposing fans and, well, us, too, regarded those two guys' attitudes: Ken was ice, Trey was fire. Some other schools' fans loved to razz Trey, especially the Byrd fans. That's a vivid memory from those games.
But that night the Byrd fans had to admit Trey was the dominant player, especially late in that very close game. He was 8-for-8 on field-goal attempts, 2-of-4 on free throws, and three times in the final three minutes made shots that put us ahead.
In the final seconds, he made another basket that would have given us the win ... except the teammate who passed him the ball was called for traveling (it was the correct call, incidentally, much as it teed me off.)
But, yes, that night "this Knight was right." I do love that photo: Trey is in charge.
The photo on the right is Trey as the cutline lead-in reads "In Football Pose" -- his LSU football photo-day shot before the only varsity season (1966) he was a quarterback for the Tigers.
This photo was in the paper in January 1968, a couple of days after Trey's death was announced.
It is not a good memory.
But look at that photo, look at that ruggedly handsome, tough-looking football player.
So he surprised even his friends, dropped out of school and joined the Marines ... in the middle of the Vietnam War. He could have transferred to another college and played more football (after sitting out a transfer year), but that did not happen.
A year later, he was gone.
It hurt then; it hurts now.
But it's history, and it's Memorial Day, and four years ago I thought it was the perfect day to stop by Trey's gravesite -- and that of his parents. That visit was long overdue. http://nvanthyn.blogspot.com/2012/05/memorial-day-memory.html
I add this newspaper clipping, one that Jerry Byrd wrote for the Shreveport Journal in May 1984 after we attended the annual early May memorial service at Woodlawn honoring the school's ex-students who died in military service. It was a day to remember and, as the headline on the column says, "A name to remember."
R.I.P., Trey. R.I.P. all the service personnel who gave their lives, and peace to their loved ones.