On May 16, 2010, Tobi Oyedeji - a power forward out of Houston Bellaire and Aggie basketball signee - passed away from injuries suffered in a car accident on his way home from his senior prom.
This Saturday (March 8) would have been his senior day at Reed Arena. We look back at the legacy that Tobi left on all the lives he touched in such a short amount of time.
GONE, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN
Tobi Oyedeji continues to touch lives four years after his tragic passing
by Chandler Smith
Four years later, his legacy still lives.
Vivid is the memory of a player who possessed maturity beyond his years; the memory of a player whose passion was palpable; the memory of a player who’s smile was contagious.
- DeAndre Jordan, LA Clippers
But, as vivid as any, is the memory of a player who loved his family and friends – and the game of basketball – dearly.
Tobi Oyedeji, a recruit who lost his life in a car collision five days prior to his 18th birthday, will be among the seniors honored Saturday at Reed Arena. The game would likely have been his final home outing as an Aggie basketball player.
Though the sorrow and grief of the tragedy remain, the remembrance and celebration of Oyedeji – the person he was in life – continues to burn brightly.
Former Texas A&M player and NBA star DeAndre Jordan, who grew up in Oyedeji’s hometown of Bellaire, said he still gives his hometown friend a shout-out via Twitter before every game – a constant reminder to himself that life is precious.
“I know to this day I always think about him,” Jordan said. “He loved the game of basketball and he loved life. Any of these games could be my last. I want to honor him every time I play.”
#35 @TobiOye...— DeAndre Jordan (@deandrejordan) March 7, 2014
Oyedeji exited high school as one of the top power-forwards in the country, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds a game. Committed to Texas A&M and then-head coach Mark Turgeon, his basketball prowess would likely have earned him early playing time and a sizable role on the team.
Jordan said he admired the way Oyedeji handled himself in even the most heated of moments.
“He played hard, and you never really saw him get frustrated on the court,” Jordan said. “He knew how to take over a game. He never was a selfish player who knew he was the best on the team. He wanted everybody to be happy. That was really him.”
Former player Ray Turner, a sophomore at the time of Oyedeji’s recruitment, would later wear the Bellaire native’s number – 35 – in his honor.
Turner, who would become close friends with the Aggie commit, noted his unique sense of character.
“He was just a hard-working kid, very faith-focused,” Turner said. “There are many people who would want to go back and change some of the things they’ve done. He’s one of those guys who lives without hardly any regrets.”
- Cole Lankford, Texas A&M Baseball
A&M baseball player Cole Lankford, who knew Oyedeji in his high school days, said he couldn’t help but notice a key signature of his ever-cheerful personality – his smile.
“I’ve never seen someone work so hard, and he would always do it with a smile on his face,” Lankford said. “He was always happy. He was just someone you liked to be around. He’s one of the greatest blessings that ever happened to me.”
And though Oyedeji would never get a chance to represent Texas A&M on the court, his legacy remains forever etched within the program.
“Tobi’s an Aggie since he committed here,” said head coach Billy Kennedy. “He epitomized what Aggies are all about through his character, his toughness and his integrity.”
“We want to honor that.”
- Man Can't Control My Destiny (The Battalion - originally published 11/11/10)