Wednesday, 12 July 2017 18:24

Gibbs inspired by the lessons of his mother

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Above, Davidson guard Jack Gibbs walks to midcourt with his parents, Jack and Aloma, on senior day, Feb. 28. Below, Gibbs hits a shot over Dayton's Kyle Davis at the A-10 tournament. Above, Davidson guard Jack Gibbs walks to midcourt with his parents, Jack and Aloma, on senior day, Feb. 28. Below, Gibbs hits a shot over Dayton's Kyle Davis at the A-10 tournament. Durane Byrd Photography; David Jablonski/Dayton Daily News

It was October, and behind the scenes, Jack Gibbs had a decision to make. 

In the days leading up to Davidson’s public intrasquad scrimmage, the Wildcat point guard dislocated his left shoulder in practice. There were two options: Gibbs could have surgery, redshirt and miss his senior season or he could play through the pain and let the shoulder heal naturally while risking that another setback could end his career. 

Gibbs decided to play and embarked on what turned into an emotional year on and off the court. 

“I thought about it, was pretty close to having surgery, but I cared about these guys too much at the end of the day,” says Gibbs, who is now playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA Summer League. “I was going to fight with everything I could to make sure I could play the season with them.”

Gibbs also wanted to play for his mother, Aloma, who was fighting cancer for her life. 

He missed the season opener against Appalachian State, but averaged 36.2 minutes in the remaining 31 games, while leading the Atlantic 10 in scoring for a second straight season (22.1 points per game) and finishing his career as one of the best Wildcats ever. He’s third on the career scoring list (2,036 points) and is the only Wildcat to total at least 1,500 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists. 

Along with the shoulder injury, which required he wear a brace all year, Gibbs broke his nose — also in practice — and wore a protective mask for the final nine games. At the A-10 tournament, he was also nursing knee, ankle, quad and calf injuries. 

“Towards the end of the year, I was pretty banged up,” he says. “(I was) playing through a lot, but you expect that through a whole season. It’s pretty grueling.”

Now, Gibbs is refreshed and has shifted his determination toward a pro career. He went undrafted in June after working out with Charlotte, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, then joined the Timberwolves, along with North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and Dayton’s Charles Cooke, for the Las Vegas Summer League, which runs through July 17. In his debut on July 8, Gibbs scored 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench in a 25-point loss to Toronto. 

Gibbs is inspired by the strength and perseverance of his mother, who passed away April 11, one month after his final college game and the Tuesday before Easter. 

Throughout her battle, Aloma Gibbs continued making trips south from Ohio to see him play, and she walked to midcourt with him at Belk Arena on senior day. She also made it to Pittsburgh for the A-10 tournament, where she saw her son not only complete his career, but turn in one of his best games in a quarterfinal upset of regular season champion Dayton, which just happened to be where Aloma, a career educator, earned her master’s degree. Gibbs scored 34 points, eclipsed the 2,000-point career mark and hit two critical late 3-pointers in a 73-67 win over the Flyers. 

Her presence and her intent on being there for her son drove Gibbs to press on through his injuries and comparatively minor setbacks. Now, he’s driven by her memory as he balances transitioning to life without her and  pursuing his dream of playing pro ball. 

“You could tell she was in pain, but the fact she wanted to be there no matter what shows what she did her whole life, just trying to make people happy,” says Gibbs. “The smile that I have on the court I get from her. That’s something that I’ll always have and remember her for.”


1 comment

  • Comment Link Jerry kroll Friday, 14 July 2017 15:21 posted by Jerry kroll

    Being on the court with Huckle every day forced all of us to play tougher. I'm sure Jack had the same impact on his team mates too.


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