Timari Rivera was one of the most popular members of the Staples boys basketball team. Perhaps it was due to his large smile. Or his oversized personality, fitting for a senior center who stood 6-7.
Maybe it was just the admiration and respect Rivera’s teammates had after he battled back from a serious medical issue as a sophomore to become captain of the Wreckers’ JV team a year ago, earning some time with the varsity team, which finished 14-6, its best record in some time.
Actually it was a combination of Rivera’s lovable disposition and tireless work ethic. That made it so much harder for the Wreckers when they learned that Rivera passed away yesterday unexpectedly after a recurrence of his previous condition.
“He was a very, very good basketball player, a great teammate, a beloved member of our basketball family and the entire Staples High School community,” said Colin Devine, the Wreckers’ coach. “He was a gentle giant with a great heart and loved his teammates, loved the game of basketball and was a true student of the game. He watched a ton of basketball.”
The news sent shockwaves through the Staples community. Rivera’s friends and teammates held a vigil last night, lighting candles, sharing memories and consoling one another with their grief.
“He worked extremely hard to get himself into playing shape midseason last year and then had an ankle injury,” Devine said. “He battled back and we had big plans for him this year.”
A New York prep school reached out to Devine today to find out Rivera’s plans after this season.
The Wreckers have been in a holding pattern. The high school sports season in the state got pushed back to a start two weeks from today because of the pandemic. The CIAC Board of Control is scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss the status of the season.
“He was going to be a major contributor,” Devine said. “My heart just goes out to the Rivera family, the Staples basketball family and school community.”