Herndon led on and off the court
John Herndon is remembered as a student leader on and off of the Southwest Minnesota State University basketball court. The straight-A student and Mustangs wheelchair basketball team captain died February 14 after going into cardiac arrest during practice.
The team is more like a family, with players recruited from around the country. Coach Derek Klinkner was impressed by Herndon’s work ethic.
“Everyone can agree with this, he would give 100 percent every single time,” Klinkner told WCCO-TV. “It if was just a 30-minute push, if it was the five-by-five scrimmage, he was always giving 100 percent.”
Jesus Villa was Herndon’s teammate, roommate and best friend from high school in Michigan where they grew up.
“Although he came to me for basketball advice and basketball help, I feel like I learned more from him, you know, just to be a better man, be a better person,” Villa said.
“He is the most selfless, or unselfish player that I ever coached,” Klinkner said. “He didn’t really care about personal stats. He didn’t care, you know, if he was playing. He wanted to win the game.”
Herndon was a first-year member of the SMSU wheelchair basketball team. He was a 2012 graduate of L’Anse Creuse North High School in Macomb, Mich. He was a junior majoring in exercise science.
“We are heartbroken and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of John Herndon,” said SMSU Director of Athletics, Chris Hmielewski. “Our love and thoughts are with his family, teammates and friends. The Mustang wheelchair basketball team is a family and an extremely close knit team. The SMSU athletics department and University are focused on supporting those who cared about John.”
Herndon, who was from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, was born with part of his spine missing. He found strength and passion in wheelchair basketball.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for his family. Donations can also be made to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in his honor.
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