On Dec. 5, 2010, just six days removed from his 44th birthday, Tulsa Will Rogers Alumnus Wade Green passed away following a bout with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a crippling neurological disorder that destroys neurons that control voluntary muscles.
A workout warrior at his peak, Green tried to stay in shape after the diagnosis, only to be told that exercise would do further damage to his weakening body.
For fans who fondly remember Green slashing up and down the court in his No. 11 jersey, there’s been a welcome sight at Roadrunner women’s games this season. Wade’s youngest daughter Lexus is currently sporting her late father’s number during her freshman season at CSUB.
Standing just 5-foot-5, Lexus developed a reputation for playing bigger than her size in a standout run as a point guard at Garces Memorial High School. As a senior, she earned Southwest Yosemite League MVP honors while averaging 18.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.6 steals.
There was, however, a time it didn’t seem Lexus would be following in her father’s footsteps.
‘One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do’
A burgeoning youth star who spent countless hours training with her father, Lexus was just 9 years old when he passed. In her heartache, she admits returning to the game that helped strengthen her bond with Wade was difficult.
“Playing basketball (after my father’s death) was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” she said. “He was my mentor, he was my trainer. So just willing myself back on the court to keep playing was rough.”
But in a family with basketball deeply ingrained in its DNA, staying off the court proved impossible. Just one day after Wade’s death, the Greens were back in the gym as a 12-year-old Isaiah gutted through an emotional middle school game.
Though her return wasn’t as immediate, Lexus said the support of family and friends eventually helped rekindle her love of the sport.
“Basketball really just kept us together,” she said. “It kept that legacy with my father together because that was our main thing.”
While she listened to other offers, Lexus says the pull of playing at the school where her father was a program legend was too strong to ignore. She made her commitment official last April.
Having played with the No. 11 for as long as she can remember, Lexus says she and her family felt a whole new emotional weight the first time she wore it with the Roadrunners.
“Eleven was (always) our number,” she said. “We’ve been representing it since we were growing up. But seeing it with a Bakersfield across my chest has been a real big blessing. (My dad) made his mark in this number and I’m trying to make my mark in it now.”
A legacy continued
There have been some predictable growing pains early in Lexus’ first year with the Roadrunners.
Through eight games, she’s averaging 3.3 points in just over nine minutes per game, recording seven assists and four steals in the process.
Adjusting to the speed of the game has been her biggest hiccup, as she says Division-I play moves roughly “10 times faster” than it did in high school.
But coaches aren’t concerned with these early bumps, with McCall saying “her ceiling can be extremely high” once she better adjusts to the pace of the game.
“It’s like a piece of (my dad) is in the crowd and a piece of him is on the court with me as well,” she said. “I just love that they’re all watching it come full circle here at CSUB.”
Knowing how beloved her father was at the school, Lexus wants to be remembered just as fondly when her career ends.
“This was his court,” she said. “He ran this court. I am here too make him proud.”