Former Teammates, Opponents Mourn Loss of Brent Darby
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Death is a part of life. When people die, other people who knew them usually—not always—have good things to say about them.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That is often just how it goes. Sometimes those words are hyperbolized in order to honor the memory of someone who was not as well-known, or even well-liked, as we would like to remember them.
Many times, however, those words are a beautiful portrayal of a person who positively influenced the lives of those around him before being taken from us far too soon.
Such is the case with Brent Darby, the former Ohio State guard who died suddenly, and unexpectedly, Tuesday at the youthful age of 30 years old.
“I am devastated about the news of Brent passing away. My prayers go out to his family, especially his two young children,” said former Ohio State point guard James “Scoonie” Penn, who played with Darby in 2000.
“Today I lost one of my brothers and we lost a member of our Buckeye family. You will never be forgotten. Love you Bro!”
Darby was a fierce competitor on the court who drove the lane with controlled ferocity and immense bravery. Despite being only 6-1, he made more free throws during his four years in Columbus than any player in Ohio State history outside of Dennis Hopson.
He wasn’t an All-American or a first-round NBA draft pick like so many of Ohio State’s players under current head coach Thad Matta, but Darby was an excellent college basketball player who took on the responsibility of carrying his team night after night.
“I’m saddened by the tragic news,” Matta said in a statement Tuesday.
“Though I did not coach Brent, he has been around the program in the summers to play with the team and for the Basketball Family Reunion. He is an amazing individual who will be missed.”
That is the truth, not just hyperbole meant to protect the reputation of a former Buckeye. Darby really will be missed; as a father, as a friend and as a teammate who left it all on the court.
“Brent was a great basketball player, but an even better person,” said Matt Sylvester, who played with Darby in 2003.
“He will be truly missed.”
These words are not trivial, and nor was Darby’s life. He was a student of the game and a student in the classroom, where he received his degree in sociology from Ohio State in 2010.
“Brent was one of the good guys, genuinely,” former teammate Terence Dials said.
“It saddens me to hear that he was taken from us so early because he really was like a big brother to me.”
Darby went through a lot early in his life, including the death of his father, but always kept smiling. Teammates remember that he was always upbeat in the locker room, even when they knew he was hurting inside. He didn’t want people to feel bad for him in life, but his death has made for many heavy hearts.
“This saddens my heart,” said J.J. Sullinger, older brother of Ohio State star Jared Sullinger.
“Brent was the type of guy you always wanted to be around, the life of the party. He will truly be missed.”
He will also be remembered.
Darby a three-year starter at Ohio State and a team captain in 2003. He was also the team MVP after scoring 18.3 points per game. He was a fierce competitor who often willed the Buckeyes to victory when they had no business being in the game.
“RIP to Brent Darby. Prayers go out to his family and friends,” said former Illinois guard Deron Williams, now with the New Jersey Nets.
“Still remember him giving me 30 (points) my freshman year.”
But that’s not what most people will remember about Brent Darby.
“Brent's legacy will be that he was known as a great person first and foremost while also being a great player,” said former teammate Michael Redd.
“I just feel horrible for his family, especially his children. He was so fun to be around. He will be missed.”
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