Kennedy to Retire Jersey of 2006 Graduate, Former Basketball Star

Tyrell Thompson, 23, was a basketball star who died tragically on Aug. 22 after collapsing during a pick-up basketball game.

John F. Kennedy Catholic High School will remember today U.S. Army 1st Lt. Tyrell Thompson, a 2010 West Point and 2006 Kennedy Catholic graduate, who died tragically earlier this year. 

The school will formally dedicate its refurbished gymnasium and retire Thompson’s No. 21 jersey on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 5:45 p.m. prior to the Gaels home opener game against Mamaroneck High School. 

Thompson died on Aug. 22 at age 23 after collapsing during a pick-up basketball game. 

As a leader of the 2004 New York State and Federation Championship-winning team, Thompson was well-known and well-liked for his amiable personality as much as his smooth jump shot, school officials said.   

"Tyrell’s life embodied the Kennedy ideals of Courage and Compassion," the Rev. Mark Vaillancourt, president and principal of Kennedy Catholic, said during a homily at the start of the school year. "We should let our lives do the same."

The Thompson family, as well as Tyrell’s former Kennedy Catholic teammates, have been invited to attend the ceremony. 

"Tyrell was a joy to coach," Army coach Zach Spiker said. "He brought his love and passion for the game of basketball and his infectious smile to practice every day. I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to coach Tyrell during his senior season as he completed his West Point developmental journey. He was a special young man."

According to an article in the Journal News, Thompson collapsed while playing in basketball game in Fort Lee, Va. Thompson was waked and buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Renovations of the gymnasium took place over the summer to replace wooden bleachers with new, retractable seating. A new center court logo, designed by 1993 graduate Matthew Walker of Walk Design, now adorns the resurfaced hardwood. 

The $250,000 capital project is being supported by generous donations from alumni and parents, for whom nameplates will be installed on bleacher rows both in the gym and outdoors on the new synthetic turf fields.

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