Cecil Estes Charity Basketball Game honors Hickman graduate's memory

Saturday, July 14, 2012 | 10:35 p.m. CDT; updated 3:56 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 15, 2012

COLUMBIA — Players wore black jerseys with No. 32 or gold jerseys with No. 44. Their uniforms represented either Hickman High School or MU. And at the end of the night, Hickman walked home victorious.

But for the former basketball players from Rock Bridge High School, Hickman and MU, it was about more than who won.

The Cecil Estes Charity Basketball Game at Hickman on Saturday evening was really a celebration of Estes' spirit, event organizer Regis McBridesaid. Estes died in 2002.

"He didn't want other scholar-athletes to go through what he went through."

The event, which raises money for a scholarship in Estes' honor, is now in its second year. McBride presented the first Cecil Estes Scholarship at halftime.

Octavia Stewart was the first recipient of the $500 scholarship. She graduated from Douglass High School in May and began taking classes at Columbia College this summer.

The money raised during this year’s game will go toward next year’s scholarship.

Part of the motivation behind creating the scholarship was to help area students in their studies, which was a struggle for Estes despite his talent on the court.

McBride, who lives in Dallas, played with Estes until the two graduated from Hickman in 1983. "I come back for this," McBride said. "I want to do this for the next 20 years."

A Hickman graduate, Estes showed promise of one day playing in the NBA. But his career was cut short by his inability to succeed in the classroom, McBride said.

After graduating from Hickman as an All-American, Estes went on to play at MU for a year.

"He could have played anywhere, but he chose to stay in Columbia for his family and the community," McBride said. "His first game with Missouri was against North Carolina. He played Michael Jordan in his first game. I'll never forget that."

Estes transferred to Moberly Area Community College while he was still academically eligible to play basketball, and the MACC Greyhounds took third in the NJCAA Men's National Basketball Tournament that year.

However, his tendency to skip class soon affected his grades so much that he dropped out of school, McBride said.

Estes lived in Dallas for a time with McBride but returned to Columbia and became a staple of the basketball courts in Douglass Park.

"Every new Mizzou player had to come play with Cecil at Douglass Park. They just had to," McBride said.

Carla Johnson, a Hickman graduate, attended the charity basketball game both this year and last year. She goes for multiple reasons, she said. One reason is her memory of watching Estes play basketball when she was a cheerleader.

"It's an event for the community annually," McBride said. He has reached out to many companies and vendors about helping to fund the Cecil Estes Charity Event, including the NBA. "I hope it continues to grow."

Outside of the basketball tournament, Estes' still has a strong presence in the community.

Douglass Park’s Midnight Hoops program was founded in honor of Estes. "It's a youth basketball program that starts at midnight," McBride said. Kids are encouraged to play basketball at night, an alternative to hanging out on the streets, he said.

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