The death of a young child is a tough thing.
That sorrow seems to intensify when that child had a great sports future.
Such is the case with Rodney Bodden, who passed away 13 years ago from a sudden heart failure at just 16 years of age.
Cayman basketball felt the loss of the 6ft 6in big man who could have easily been among the best players in Cayman today.
Two weeks ago local hoops did its part to honour his memory with a memorial three-on-three tournament at Camana Bay.
Many local players came out to compete and fittingly many of them were in the U19 age group.
At this point it seems appropriate to look back at the person Bodden was.
Arguably the people that knew him best were his family. In particular younger sister Katrina Thomas (nee Forbes) had many memories of him.
Thomas, 27, said on the whole Rodney was a joyful and energetic person.
‘He was fun-loving and had the ability to make you smile. It seemed like it was never a bad day when you were around him. He was passionate about the game of basketball.’
Sister Delecia Ebanks, 24, added that Rodney loved basketball with a passion.
‘My brother loved basketball so much. Basically he ate and slept basketball all day.’
Thomas and Ebanks are two of Rodney’s four siblings. Rodney had two brothers in David Bodden and John Bodden.
Thomas went on to talk about how basketball was a big part of Rodney’s life.
‘Basketball was his thing. Growing up he started out playing football in primary school. But over the years he got an interested in basketball.
‘Once he got into it in middle school he went forward from there. In fact he went off to school in the Bahamas on a basketball scholarship.
‘We were so proud of him for being one of the first people in Cayman to get a basketball scholarship to a school abroad.’
Unfortunately Rodney barely had time to make an impression as he succumbed to a sudden heart attack a week after being in the Bahamas.
As Thomas states his passing still resonates with her and the family.
‘It was a sudden and tragic death. He had just moved back to George Town (the family had moved to West Bay when he was seven years old).
‘Plus he had recently been cleared by the doctors in Cayman as part of the medical needed to get into the school.
‘He may have left us 13 years ago but it’s a tough thing for mommy (George Town native Alecia Ebanks) and all of us.
‘He and I were very close as he was very protective of me in school. I’m tearing up right now just talking about him.’
Rodney has left a positive blueprint for locals to follow. Since his time Cayman has seen close to a 100 youngsters go away to play at schools abroad.
Some of the current names doing Cayman proud overseas are Jorge Ebanks, Phillip Barnes and Cassian Lawrence.
Rodney was not the only athlete in the family as sister Delecia Ebanks is a notable face in flag football and netball.
Ebanks talked about the connection she and her brother have in sports.
‘Rodney and I were the most athletic ones in the family. We just wanted to be active. Both of us started from primary school and went from there.
‘What it made it special for me was the fact that we were the youngest in the family. I was the youngest sister and he was the youngest brother.’
Both Thomas and Ebanks had nothing but praise for Rodney’s childhood friend and tournament organizer Cory Thompson.
‘In all of this Cory was like a brother to us,’ Thomas said. ‘He deserves all of the props and we appreciate him for all that he has done for us.’
‘Cory was Rodney’s best friend and he has been a great friend to us,’ Ebanks said.
Cory meanwhile was focused on making Rodney’s family content.
‘I felt happy inside that I could put a smile on their faces. Seeing his mom smile really touched me.’