June 23, 2022

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Former Amphi basketball standout Jackson Ruai dies in automobile accident at age 21

Jackson Ruai always expressed himself on the basketball court docket with his flamboyant character, which incorporated putting on various colored sneakers, participating in excellent-natured trash talking and celebrating openly right after scoring.

I was lucky to have the option to inquire Ruai about making the most of himself on the courtroom, normally flashing his familiar smile, following Amphi’s pivotal acquire in excess of region rival Palo Verde as a senior in 2018-19.

“I just try out to have fun with it,” Ruai said. “At the close of the day, a person time, the ball is going to stop bouncing, so I just try to have as a great deal fun as I can.”

Tragically, the ball has stopped bouncing for Jackson Joseph Ruai. His loved ones, the Amphi neighborhood and Southern Arizona basketball circles are shaken by it.

The tough news surfaced Sunday that Ruai died in an car accident in El Paso on Saturday night time.

The Class of 2019 standout was only 21.

Ruai was elevated in Tucson just after he was born in South Sudan. In accordance to the South Sudan Basketball Affiliation net web page, Ruai wished to use his college or university training towards producing health-related advancement alternatives all through the South Sudan.

He a short while ago entered his title in the transfer portal adhering to his sophomore 12 months at NAIA university Oakland Metropolis (Ind.).

He played his freshman time in 2019-20 with the University of Southern Idaho, a junior college or university in Twin Falls, Idaho.

He signed with Oakland City just after not enjoying for a faculty in 2020-21. He continue to experienced three years of eligibility remaining mainly because he did not engage in in a match for the Mighty Oaks in 2021-22.

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The initially time I achieved Ruai was 6 many years ago at a Boys & Girls Club gymnasium in Las Vegas all through the summer season when he and other customers of the Arizona-based Powerhouse Hoops 15U team were trying to make a name for on their own in entrance of likely college or university recruiters.

I remember how incredulous he was that I needed to interview him and other users of that group that provided Majok Deng (a refugee from Kenya who grew up in Sudan) and Evan Nelson — the two of whom later were being standouts at Salpointe — and Grant Ward, who ended up staying a 1,000-stage occupation scorer at Buena.

Ruai was only 15 at the time, going into his freshman season at Cholla.

The last time I interviewed him was about four months ahead of he was established to graduate in 2019 at Amphi (he transferred to the school as a sophomore). It was just after Amphi’s decline to Palo Verde in the MLK Typical at McKale Centre. He had 17 points and an electrifying breakaway dunk in that match though sporting crimson sneakers on a person foot and black on the other.

“I like to be different and mismatch sneakers,” Ruai mentioned with a giggle.

As much of a scorer he was, Ruai prided himself most with his defense.

“I’m an energy player. Athletic,” he reported.

Ben Hurley, who coached Ruai after the 6-foot-4 guard transferred from Cholla, the moment stated to me in a 2019 interview that “Jackson is a leader on the floor who does a lot of tiny points that sometimes never normally display up in the statbook.”

“He will get his hand on the ball, defending the other team’s best player … With Jackson, there’s a good deal of speaking on the floor — talking to his teammates. He’s that chief on the flooring. He sets the tone at the defensive finish.”

The relatives is organizing funeral expert services in Tucson and his burial in Sudan.

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