John Hoover

With hearts already heavy, Sooners endure another death in the family

With hearts already heavy, Sooners endure another death in the family
As the Sooners prepare to face Villanova in the Final Four, Oklahoma center Khadeem Lattin is dealing with the death of his maternal grandmother on Wednesday night.

As the Sooners prepare to face Villanova in the Final Four, Oklahoma center Khadeem Lattin is dealing with the death of his maternal grandmother on Wednesday night.

HOUSTON — Oklahoma already was heading into the Final Four with a collective heavy heart. And it just got heavier.

The Sooners are already dealing with the absence of backup center Akolda Manyang, whose brother died last week in Minnesota. Services are Saturday, so Manyang will not be with the team when they take the floor on Saturday against Villanova.

On Wednesday, starting center Khadeem Lattin got more bad news: his maternal grandmother, Brenda Fair, died Wednesday night after a brief battle with stage 4 lung cancer.

Lattin’s story was already deeply compelling. He’s a Houston native, son of a former Houston WNBA star (Monica Lamb) and grandson of David “Big Daddy” Lattin, the center for Don Haskins’ Texas Western team that shook college basketball’s white establishment 50 years ago by beating Kentucky and becoming the first all-black starting lineup to win a national championship.

Now, instead of celebrating the greatest moment of his young life amongst family, Lattin must try to focus through the heartache.

“I was sad,” he said after Thursday’s practice at NRG Stadium. “I didn’t sleep a lot. But you’ve got to win for grandma.”

OU coach Lon Kruger said Lattin made an emotional trip back home a couple weeks ago.

“He took the extra time to come see her,” Kruger said. “He had that opportunity. But it still doesn’t make it any easier, because it’s tough. Khadeem seems to be okay with it. Doesn’t lessen the sadness that he feels.

“But AK, the young guy that lost his brother a couple weeks ago, it was a reminder to all of our guys, it’s all fragile; what we’re doing is a gift and a blessing and appreciated. But still, those relationships are far more important.”

Said Lattin, “Life happens. You have to be mature. There’s not a lot I can do. Just pray and know she’s watching over me.

“She’s a spirit now, and she has my back no matter what.”

John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he’s now co-host of “Further Review” on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World’s lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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