Commentary

Remembering Apache Paschall

Updated: January 12, 2012, 1:27 PM ET
By Glenn Nelson | ESPN HoopGurlz

On Feb. 1, three years ago, I recorded a video interview with the late Robert "Apache" Paschall, ostensibly for a piece about one of his players. But after our original subject matter was exhausted, we kept talking, and the camera kept rolling.

I'd forgotten about the video until the other day. While searching for material with which to memorialize Paschall, I found it.

Paschall, 37, died on Jan. 3 of heart failure while battling an aggressive form of skin cancer. During the previous year, he'd also been hospitalized for congestive heart failure and diagnosed as suffering a mild stroke.

A wake for Paschall is being held Friday at United House of Prayer, 2320 8th Ave., in Manhattan, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Services will be held Saturday, also at United House of Prayer, at 11 a.m., with a viewing from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

When Paschall's longtime assistant and close friend Lauren Best gave me the information for the wake, I chuckled: "Um, Friday & the 13th?"

"Oh yeah," Best replied, "he's probably up there, laughing his butt off at us right now."

Life went on, but not quickly. His team at Nazareth Regional (Brooklyn, N.Y.) played for the first time since his passing on Wednesday, beating Archbishop Molloy 77-63. The Lady Kingsmen's first two scheduled opponents, Bishop Ford (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.), said it was too soon after Paschall's death to play. That decision was disputed publicly by Nazareth's players, coaches and administration.

A couple of Paschall's former players, Epiphanny Prince and Kia Vaughn, both of whom advanced to the WNBA, took the lead in fundraising for funeral expenses, raising more than $10,000 on the first day online at: www.wepay.com/donations/apache.

The kind of philosophy and approach outlined by Paschall in the ESPN HoopGurlz video interviews is what engendered such fierce loyalty from his players, families and fans.

Pointing out the positive changes his high school and Exodus club programs have made in girls' lives, Paschall said in the interview, "That's the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."

The excerpts are arranged into four parts. In two, Paschall describes his beginnings and approaches, and the impact of how others perceived him. In another, Paschall describes the impact of his mother, Elaine Bartlett, a victim of Nelson D. Rockefeller's war on drugs who was eventually granted clemency of her prison term and who wrote a book, "Life on the Outside," about her experiences. In the fourth excerpt, Paschall talks about getting into coaching girls because of his sister, Danae Bartlett, and the lessons he learned from his experiences coaching her.

"The worst thing in the world for us," Paschall said, "is knowing that we had the chance to change somebody's life and it didn't happen because of something we missed."

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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Seattle University and Columbia University, he formerly coached girls' club basketball, was a co-founder and editor-in-chief of an online sports network, authored a basketball book for kids, has had his photography displayed at the Smithsonian Institute, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at glenn@hoopgurlz.com.