A Staples High School senior and member of the boys basketball team known as a gentle giant died suddenly Sunday night.
Timari Rivera, a 6-foot-8 senior at Staples died overnight Sunday, according to the school which received word of his passing Monday.
Staples basketball coach Colin Devine said he and Rivera’s teammates are in the process of grieving for their friend.
“As a coach and educator, a tragedy like this is never expected. It has been really hard on the players and the coaches. Our thoughts and prayers are with all his family and his friends,” Devine said. “He was a gentle giant with a great heart and a beloved member of the Staples community.”
Devine spoke to Rivera’s mother Monday and met with his team Tuesday morning to discuss Rivera’s death.
Counselors have been made available to Staples students and staff through the school.
Rivera, a native of Bridgeport, was a part of the Cooperative Educational Services Choice program and attended Westport schools since first grade.
The Open Choice program was established by legislation and is intended to reduce racial, ethnic, and economic isolation among students. Through Open Choice, students who are Bridgeport residents have the opportunity to attend school in participating school districts when space is available, according to its website.
The Staples student newspaper, Inklings News posted on its Instagram Tuesday morning a photo from a gathering Monday night at Longshore where friends gathered with candles and flowers to share memories of Rivera.
The Instagram post read: “Timari will always be remembered and loved by all of his peers and he will be dearly missed. He had a huge heart and was a hard worker with big dreams. We will miss you Timari. Fly high.”
On the court, Rivera was an emerging talent ready to come into his own in his senior year.
“He was a very good basketball player and only getting better,” Devine said. “I met Timari his freshmen year and knew right away he would be a good player and a great leader and he was both. He would have been a tremendous senior leader for us this season. We are going to dedicate our season to Timari and will have him in our minds every game and every practice.”
Though he was still developing as a player, he had already drawn the interest of college scouts due to his size and outside shooting range.
Recruit the Bronx, which profiles high school boys basketball players from New York and Connecticut boroughs or counties who are college basketball prospects wrote this about Rivera in November:
“We project that Rivera is going to help make some hard-working scout’s career. He is currently way beneath the radar for a talented 6’8 player. He has the un-teachables in D1 size and strength and a soft touch. Put this guy on a college level conditioning and diet routine, and a dominant player will emerge. He has strong low post seal technique, making him an excellent target and a scoring threat deep on the block. He also embarrassed a few ‘shooting guards’ in this session by sticking his threes both in game play and beating them out for a spot in the 3-point shooting finals. His ability to draw a college-sized rim defender out of the paint, will inspire some offensive ‘coaching genius’ at the next level.”