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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

Editor’s note: This is a short detour from politics as usual to give a legacy to a person who deserves one. This week's political article, "Key Obama Voting Blocs Now Absent" can be found in the archive section.

Dave Roddy:  The Legacy of a Friend

October 12, 2010

Dave Roddy of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, passed away last week.

He and I played basketball together at the University of Miami (Fla.), but our friendship was more than a mutual interest in basketball.

When I arrived on campus at the University of Miami, I had just been diagnosed with mononucleosis, and had to spend the first few weeks of my freshman year in the school infirmary. I was 17 years old, and 1,000 miles away from home, and Dave, who was a year ahead of me, checked on me daily.

He would later help me navigate the rigors of Division 1 college basketball, and teach me to balance the demands and expectations of being a major college student-athlete.

Dave was a great basketball player. He was small, 5’11, and weighed just 145 lbs, but he was magical with the basketball.  He was quick, illusive, and as slick with the ball as Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, and could shoot just as well, too.

In high school, Dave was all-state at McKeesport (Pa.) High School, and played alongside future Iowa Big Ten all-star Glenn Vidnovic.  He averaged 19 points per game his senior year, and was named most valuable player in the annual City-Catholic high school tournament in Pittsburgh.

But his legacy to me is that of a friend.  At Miami, Dave had a car on campus, a Mustang convertible, and we drove everywhere. We usually traveled into Miami Beach, as we listened to beach and soul music on the radio, or his eight-track tape player, and talked about how one-day we might play for the NCAA championship.

He introduced me to alligator shoes, basketball great Connie Hawkins, and The Dells. He made sure I had a date for Crandon Park Beach parties, and Friday night Hurricane football games.

We were both on a full-basketball scholarship, but between the two of us, I needed the financial aid much more than he did. He came to my rescue on many occasions, particularly on Sunday evenings, when he knew my next meal wouldn’t be until the athletic training table opened for breakfast on Monday morning.

During my sophomore season Dave had some disagreements with the coach, and transferred to Duquesne University, where he played under Hall of Fame coach Red Manning. He was a starter for the Dukes, a team loaded with talent that included the Nelson twins, Jarrett Durham, and Lionel Billingy.

I visited him regularly in McKeesport during our semester breaks, and later settled in Pennsylvania after graduating from college. Our friendship continued unabated.

In later years, we rarely saw each other, but when we did, it was like we were back in Miami, heading out once again for South Beach. I loved those days, and hope everyone had a friend like Dave, and college experiences like we did.

Rest in peace, my friend, and thank you.                               

I will think of you often :’-(.