The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 3, 2014

Harvey Tucker dies at home in Memphis

Harvey Tucker became one of the strongest members of Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball family.

“To go through everything he’s gone through in his life and have the outlook he maintained ... he never lost his faith,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “He was tempted more than anybody should have been tempted. He’s had so many opportunities to put the blame on something else, and he never did that. He was a strong man.”

Tucker, age 81 and the father of former Lions All-American Chris Tucker, died last Saturday at his home in Memphis, Tenn. Visitation and funeral services will be held Saturday at New Sardis Baptist Church in Memphis.

“Carolyn O’Neal (Harvey’s niece) called me,” Corn said. “She said Harvey had gone to the doctor on Friday, had a good checkup ... the doctor said he would live another 12 years.

“He got up Saturday morning, fixed and ate breakfast, sat down with a cup of coffee to read the paper and died. She said he died very peacefully.”

Chris Tucker was a dominant center for the Lions from 1990-94. He ranks No. 7 on the school’s career scoring list with 1,520 points, and he still holds the school record for blocked shots in a game (9) and career (179).

In July 1994, shortly after completing work to earn his degree, Chris Tucker was killed in an automobile accident in Joplin.

At the encouragement of Freeman Sports Medicine, the Lions’ annual tournament was renamed to the Freeman Sports Medicine/Chris Tucker Memorial Classic. Harvey Tucker and other family members made the trip each time from Memphis to Joplin for the weekend, and Harvey addressed players on the four teams each time. His last trip to Joplin was in November 2012.

“We always ended our breakfast with him speaking,” Corn said. “Every time he spoke, everybody walked away with a great feeling. His words meant a lot to each and every one of us. He was a special person.”

Michael Tucker, Harvey’s younger son, was killed in a motorcycle accident almost five years to the day after Chris’ accident.

“I wondered why,” Harvey Tucker told the 2010 tournament teams. “Between the two of them they lived a total of 46 years, and they both lived qualitative lives.

“God has given me the strength to live with it, and I know what (Joplin) thought about Chris. That has been the inspiration for me to come here. ... I don’t let anything negative stand in my pathway. I refuse to fail.”

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