The game will help the late John Denney's daughter, Sarah, become an attorney, like her dad.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- If he were asked to write his own obituary, John Denney would have wanted to be remembered as a loving father, a dedicated husband, a fine basketball player and a respected lawyer.
And likely, in that order of importance.
When Denney died of brain cancer in 1995 at age 41, he left behind his wife Nancy, a 12-year-old daughter, his law practice and a group of attorneys who enjoyed playing pick-up basketball games with him almost every morning at the YMCA Central Branch.
The final John Denney Memorial Basketball Game, which serves as a fund-raiser for the college education of Sarah Denney, now a senior at Canfield High School, will be played Monday at the Jewish Community Center. Game time is 6:30 p.m.
"The basketball game is a tribute to John," said attorney Mark Belinky, who has served as the coordinator of the event since its inception. "He tragically left a young child and a widow."
The game, which sends a team of lawyers over age 35 against a squad of younger attorneys, was Belinky's idea to raise funds for Sarah's education as well as remembering the memory of her dad.
"This game means giving my daughter the opportunity to go to college," said Nancy Denney, who fondly remembered her deceased husband playing hoops almost daily.
"Everybody has been so kind and so good, giving of themselves and their donations."
Both players and local residents have contributed to the trust fund.
"We've raised a considerable amount of money," said Belinky, who coaches the older players. "The response of the community, particularly the legal community, has been terrific."
Sarah plans to study International Law and become a lawyer like her dad. She's already been accepted at Duquesne, John Carroll and American University.
Contributions can be made to the Mahoning County Bar Association Foundation, 29 E. Front St., Youngstown, 44503.
The older lawyers have dominated the series, leading 5-1.
Thus far, Belinky doesn't want to credit their success to an invisible helper on the sideline.
Of course, John Denney never took credit for his many assists on the basketball court while playing the sport.