Geno Morgan's friends return for memorial tourney
A late East High School basketball coach's life and times are again being remembered this season, at a basketball tournament named for him.
Lisa Morgan is not a realtor, but she sounds like one as she shows off her friend's home. It's a place she hasn't seen in nearly a decade and a half.
"It's been that long since I've been back to Anchorage," Morgan said.
She's back in Alaska this week to take care of business, not to help sell her friend's home which is on the market.
Last year marked the inaugural Geno Morgan Memorial G.E.N.I.U.S. Basketball Tournament at East High School. One player will receive a scholarship.
Morgan guided the Thunderbirds to the 2000 state title, and finished runner-up the following year. He also led Palmer to the 1995 state crown. Morgan passed away in his sleep in July 2015, at the age of 49.
"The first two years were very, very hard for me. I did not realize the death would be a hard process to get through," said Morgan.
Part of the healing has been the foundation, she, and others created, after her husband's death.
The tournament pays tribute to Geno. and uses "genius" in its name because, that's how Morgan and others describe her husband.
"Geno's philosophy was being a genius, and being a genius means being your best at whatever you do," Morgan said.
Geno Morgan grew up in a rough section of Chicago. He relied on his brain, not his fists to escape the city.
"From a very young age, Geno did not have positive, strong role models that obtained a college degree. His grandmother, who raised him, was very influential in him about obtaining a college degree," said Morgan.
She says her husband's grandmother gave him $20 after his high school graduation, and essentially threw him out of the house, more like kicked him out of the nest.
"That was out of love, she knew Chicago was a drug-infested area, where there was no positive outcomes from young people," Morgan said.
Geno Morgan spent two years as a player at Alaska Pacific University. He then turned to coaching, but the job quickly became much more than X's and O's. Morgan dedicated himself to helping kids be their best.
"The grandmother knew Geno had something in him, and that he was a force to be reckoned with, I can say it like that," said Morgan, who is a force of her own ensuring Geno's memory endures.
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