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Uniondale's Jo-Jo Wright lauded as a talent, a leader and great student

Jo-Jo Wright was a first-team All Long Island

Jo-Jo Wright was a first-team All Long Island player as a freshman last year for Uniondale.   Credit: James Escher

Uniondale sophomore point guard Jo-Jo Wright was remembered as an exceptional talent, a leader, a relentless worker, a great student and a person with wisdom beyond his 15 years at a memorial service Thursday at St. Paul AME Church in Rockville Centre.

Wright emerged as the top public school player in Nassau County last season as a freshman, was named to Newsday’s All-Long Island boys basketball team and helped the Knights reach the county championship game by averaging 19 points and nine assists. He died Jan. 27 in an automobile accident in which he was a passenger while traveling with friends to a workout.

Though it was a private service, it was viewed by thousands via a livestream and a recording posted on YouTube.

Romell Witherspoon, a family friend and the former chaplain for the Los Angeles Lakers, guided the service and eulogized Wright.

Hempstead Mayor Don Ryan read a letter he wrote on behalf of his town to Wright’s parents. Daniel Colon, director of the Riverside Church AAU program, read a letter from UCLA coach Mick Cronin that accompanied a posthumous scholarship offer. Uniondale’s choir performed.

Ryan described Wright as "a young man who was gifted beyond words . . . synonymous with Uniondale basketball and uniquely gifted, and every time he was on the court, it was evident the game was his passion."

He told Wright’s parents that he "made an impact in the lives of all who knew him — his legacy will live beyond today and for generations to come."

Cronin’s letter read, in part, "he was so full of life, had a deep love with the game of basketball and he was a good teammate. It also came to my attention that [Wright’s] dream was to be a UCLA Bruin. My heart breaks at the realization that this dream will not become a reality."

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