Memphis AAU team win national title days after coach’s son, 4, drowns

Kevin Hughes said his son Kross had four dreams: he wanted to be a police officer, firefighter, rapper and preacher all at the same time.

Hughes often wondered how the 4-year-old, whom he affectionately referred to as “Kross the Boss”, could achieve all four at once. But Kross was convinced he could. He reassured his father that it would work for him.

“When we were 4, we had these conversations… (and he was like) ‘Well, they’re going to work for me, daddy.’ It was a real spirit, ”said Hughes. “He will be truly missed.”

Born on Halloween in 2016, it was only fitting that Kross liked to dress up and pretend. The minute he got home from daycare, Kross was changing into one of 25 constantly rotating costumes, his father said.

Hughes and his family were staying in Kissimmee, Florida last weekend to participate in a basketball tournament for the Reform Sports Memphis team of his older brother K’Cyn, of which Hughes coaches.

Kross died after drowning in the rental home’s pool on July 4.

The death was deemed accidental, according to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

Kross Hughes at the AAU tournament in Orlando, Florida.

Later that evening, Hughes spoke to K’Cyn and offered him two options: they could go home that night or stay and play for an AAU National Championship in Orlando.

Still in shock and disbelief, his son K’Cyn gave a simple answer:

“I want to play for my brother,” said the 10-year-old. “I’m going to win, for my brother.”

This is exactly what he did.

Reform Sports won the title two days later.

K'Cyn Hughes celebrates in his reformed sports uniform.

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“Extremely distraught”

By the time sheriff’s deputies arrived at Acadia Estates Court, rescue action was already underway on Kross by Osceola County firefighters.

It is not known how long Kross was underwater before he was found.

Hughes was sitting outside in a chair but did not realize his son was missing, according to an incident report obtained by The Commercial Appeal, which had been redacted to exclude all names.

Hughes was identifiable as “father” in the report.

Hughes informed MPs that he was the only adult in the pool area at the time of the incident, which occurred between 3:23 and 4:23 pm He believed Kross was inside the pool area. home and hadn’t seen him enter the pool or how he was discovered.

Hughes was “extremely distraught”, according to the report. Hughes’ wife Lauren “was crying hysterically and couldn’t speak” when police tried to get information about the event.

Kross was taken to AdventHealth Celebration Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s department said the case was closed.

Because Kross was a minor, his death was reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

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‘Free spirit’

Reform coach Jelisa Scruggs said Kross’ death gave the team a new goal. Hughes, an assistant coach, offered the other players the choice of staying or going home, and each gave the same answer as K’Cyn to stay.

“It wasn’t about us anymore. It changed with all the boys, and it showed brotherhood,” Scruggs said. “They supported their brother the whole time. If a child wasn’t around him, three or four were around him. He was never alone. And they just got together. They wrapped their hands around it. of their brother and protected him. “

Scruggs described this moment as one of the most difficult days of his life. The group of third grade boys were thrilled to win the championship; some players cried and many of them still slept with their hats and medals on that night.

The winning national championship AAU Team Reform

“It was like Kross was in the building,” Hughes said.

Kross, described as energetic and spontaneous, went virtually everywhere his father went. He was a constant presence in the gym.

In a Reform game, Kross was hanging out in his usual place on the team bench when he asked Scruggs if he could play for the team. She told him he could but only if he found a jersey.

Unsurprisingly, the young boy picked up one of the players’ shooting jerseys. To keep his promise, Scruggs sent Kross out onto the field to run with the team for a short time.

According to his uncle Tevin Hughes, Kross was the boy everyone liked to be around. His presence could light up a room and Kross could make people laugh just by being careless, whether it was ripping a hat off someone’s head or playing on the gymnasium bleachers.

“If you didn’t know how to be free-spirited and how to live your life and have fun, you never met Kross,” Scruggs said. “He was a real type of glow to the world. He just had life in him. It was just pure life.”

Claire Kuwana is a sports reporting intern at Memphis Commercial Appeal. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @clairekuwana.

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