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Column: An unsung SCC heroPosted Sunday, September 9, 2012, at 12:48 AM
You can just about tell.
That's what Larry Mosley told me during our only conversation.
"You can just about tell with an elementary kid," he said. "You can just about tell how well they're going to do by how quick they catch on to stuff."
He probably should have said that he could just about tell. After all, he was the man who coached the elementary basketball teams at Scott County Central for the better part of 30 years.
Larry said he had seen the talent in his grandson Bobby Hatchett, who was then a star senior point guard at SCC, at an early age.
"I could tell that we were going to have a pretty good ballplayer," Mosley said to me in a phone conversation in March of 2010.
He was right, of course. Bobby turned out to be a pretty good ballplayer.
It was just a couple weeks ago that he drove with Bobby down to Russellville, Ark., where he helped his beloved grandson, who moved in with him before his fifth-grade year in large part so he could play basketball with the Braves, settle into life at Arkansas Tech, the college Bobby chose to attend so he could be closer to his ailing grandpa.
That was the last time that the two saw each other.
Larry died on Aug. 31 at the age of 61.
Even though I'd never met him in person, I'd heard his name mentioned so often and so fondly while covering the SCC basketball team's four consecutive state titles that I knew the loss would be a significant one to the community.
In addition to being the most influential man in Bobby's life, he was Uncle Larry to Otto Porter, Calvin Porter, Dominique Porter, Jaylen Porter, Corey Porter, Michael Porter and probably all the other younger Porters you can name. He had been married to Dasie Lee Porter since 1974.
He was known as Mr. Mosley to pretty much everybody else. He was a custodian at SCC for years and began coaching the school's elementary teams, something for which he never received compensation, in 1980.
The consensus is that there hasn't been a basketball player who has walked onto the court in an SCC jersey since -- and maybe not a student who has walked the school's halls -- that Larry hasn't influenced.
It makes sense then that the SCC basketball court was covered in black Thursday afternoon as hundreds of people, many of whom played for Larry before becoming SCC royalty, filed into the gym for his funeral service.
"This is where Larry's heart was," said Bishop Ronnie Webb, who officiated.
His life and his lessons were about more than basketball, of course. No one could hope to have the impact Larry clearly did just by teaching kids how to press or how to pass.
But if you want to teach a kid something about discipline, about dedication or about responsibility to yourself and others, basketball is a pretty good place to start.
"He was just a guy that was always around, that was always there for the kids," SCC coach Frank Staple said. "Every kid that we have on our varsity and JV and junior high now, they've all played for him. They've all got stories to tell about him. They're all very fond of him."
Melvin Porter, Larry's brother-in-law and an SCC graduate and former coach, spoke during the service.
He joked that Larry would spend a few minutes inside with Dasie during family gatherings, then he'd "be in the backyard with me and my brothers. We'd have a game going."
Melvin Porter called Larry a humanitarian and said he reached out to kids because he wanted to make everyone better.
People think it's about the hollering and the frustration of a coach, he said, but for Larry it was about making people better.
"Larry sacrificed his life so that others could be better," was how Webb put it.
I was told more than once that it didn't matter how good a young player was, Larry treated the slowest kid on the team the same as the future all-staters.
I was told he always had a smile on his face, that he epitomized what the SCC community was all about and that he led a fulfilled life.
"It's true," Bobby said. "It's weird when you see so many people he had an impact on. He affected a lot of people. For me, seeing everybody talk, even if they didn't go up to the stand and talk about him, you can kind of feel the vibe and everything.
"I kind of already knew it anyway because even when he was living everybody would come tell me how he affected people, but you never know until they're gone."
I asked Bobby if any particular memory of his grandpa stood out from the others.
He told me a story he'd told me a few years ago, the one about the day he remembers meeting his grandpa for the first time when he was in the third grade. Bobby and his mother had just moved back to Sikeston from Memphis.
"You know me?" Larry asked.
Bobby told him no.
"I'm your grandpa," Larry said. "Do you play ball?"
Bobby assured him he did.
"You're going to play for my team," Larry said.
And so Bobby did, pretty much from that day on.
All the other memories, Bobby said, start with that one, which is remarkably fitting since so many SCC success stories start the same way -- with the decision to play basketball for Larry Mosley.
Rachel Crader is editor of semoball.com. Her column typically appears in the Southeast Missourian and on semoball.com on Wednesdays. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Rachel Crader is the editor of semoball.com. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2009 before spending the summer covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.
Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.
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