Friends, coaches remember Davenport West’s Jermilyn Gardner

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 4:34 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Jermilyn Gardner’s coaches say on the basketball court, the 16-year-old said little and played hard.

But off the court — everyone remembered him by the same thing.

“He had an infectious smile,” Charles Lard, Gardner’s youth basketball coach said. “He wanted to make people happy.”

The standout Davenport West basketball player lost his life over the weekend. According to Bettendorf investigators, Gardner drowned in a quarry at Crow Creek Park on Saturday evening.

Those, like Cailen Shadrick, who knew Gardner called him MyMy.

They met each other as kids, on the basketball court.

“Even though it was like outside of school, outside of basketball, it still always was basketball,” Shadrick said. “We definitely played a lot of basketball outside of school.”

Both spent a lot of time together, making memories at each other’s houses.

“He was just a good person to be around, funny,” Shadrick said. “Always making somebody laugh. A good friend. Big on loyalty.”

Growing up they played hoops at Beyond the Baseline, a youth sports center in Davenport.

Owner Gary Thrapp said the Gardner led by example.

“One thing that was very clear with MyMy, [he] didn’t get caught up in the negativity, he didn’t get caught up in the words, which was huge,” Thrapp said. “That made an impact on other people that surrounded him.”

Lard coached Garnder at Beyond the Baseline through his elementary school years.

He saw the young athlete grow from the moment he took his first dribble.

“He was a good kid. He liked having fun. Basketball made him happy,” Lard said. “I mean, you do what makes you happy ... he stayed in the gym.”

In high school, the teen quickly became a rising star at Davenport West.

Coach David Robinson said his legacy will be felt in the hallways.

“He really cared about everyone trying to succeed and be better,” Robinson said. “He was fearless. He took on all challenges, took on all responsibilities. He did a lot to take a lot off his teammates so they can be more comfortable.”

Shadrick will play basketball in Bettendorf next year, no longer getting the opportunity to face off against his childhood friend.

“He’s supposed to be here. He’s supposed to be a star player,” Shadrick said. “He’s supposed to do a lot of things ... the list goes on.”

According to coach Robinson, the team has reached out to mental health professionals to help the players through this tough time.