‘Everybody loved Mikey.’ Basketball star dies in car accident Saturday. Community mourns

Basketball star dies in car accident Saturday. Community mourns

CHARLOTTE, NC (Langston Wertz./Charlotte Observer) - A former Mecklenburg County high school basketball star was killed in a bicycle accident early Saturday morning, and the local basketball community is stunned.

Mikey Maddox, who played at Rocky River High School and at Vance, was 18. He was hit on Old Concord Road in northeast Charlotte around 1 a.m. Maddox was pronounced dead at the scene.

Maddox played travel basketball in the summer of 2017 for Team United, a Nike affiliated program, and before that he played for Team Charlotte, which plays on the Under Armour circuit. Both programs are locally based.

Maddox is the second local player to die in the past four months. In May, a player at Charlotte's Liberty Heights School, James Hampton, collapsed and died while playing for Team United's summer travel team at a tournament in Virginia.

"I kept asking, 'Is this true. Is this true,'" said Jermaine Walker, who coached Maddox at Rocky River. "This kid was loved by his peers. There are kids that I've coached and worked with that I haven't seen in awhile and they are calling me. It's amazing how much he was loved."

Walker was asleep Saturday when his phone rung at 2 a.m. It was the mother of a player he had coached at Kennedy Charter. Her son was good friends with Maddox. She tried to tell him the news.

Walker answered but fell back asleep before he could process anything.

His phone rung again.

"I couldn't go back to bed," Walker said later Saturday morning. "I've not been back to sleep. Maybe an hour later, all my players started calling."

Maddox averaged 11 points and two assists as a junior at Rocky River in the 2016-17 season. He got an offer from Southern Mississippi while he played there, Walker said.

Walker said Maddox was one of the most athletic players he'd ever seen.

"As far as pure talent," he said, "not basketball, but pure athleticism, I've never seen anything like it. He played above the rim. He had quickness. He could do flips without using his hands. I've not coached anyone with that type of athleticism for his size. He was very, very gifted."

Walker left Rocky River before the 2017-18 school year, and Maddox also left. Walker said he transferred to Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, VA. Walker said he left Hargrave in midseason and transferred to a school in Houston, TX.

Jeff McInnis, the former UNC and NBA point guard, coached Maddox in the past on his Team Charlotte travel teams.

McInnis said several colleges were in touch with Maddox and checking his academic progress. Maddox, he said, was going to do a prep school year at Liberty Heights and then play college basketball in the 2019-20 season.

"He played for Team Charlotte for a couple of years and it didn't work out," McInnis said. "We stayed in contact and talked every month. I was trying to help him get through life. Man, he had gotten on the right track. That's the saddest part in all of this. He was doing so good, and to get hit by a car."

McInnis' voice trailed off, then he continued, saying Maddox played for the Juice All-Stars travel team last summer.

Like Walker, McInnis said "everybody loved Mikey."

Walker said Maddox will be deeply missed.

"He lived with me, off and on," Walker said, "and for me, it's always bigger than basketball. I wanted the kid to be a productive citizen. I've been thinking all morning and not one thought has been about basketball. My biggest prayer is that he found God. That's what I've been thinking about, about God."

Honoring Mikey

A "hoop session" will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at Reedy Creek Park for friends to gather, and a balloon release will be held Sunday at 6 p.m., also at Reedy Creek.

Sharing Memories

Social media was full of tributes to Maddox from friends. A sampling.