KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dozens of people surrounded the Don Bosco Community Center in Downtown Kansas City on Thursday night to remember a beloved basketball coach and pastor.
Calvin Wainright, 68, died Monday, on Halloween, after suffering health complications, according to his family.
Wainright was well-known in the Black community. He coached sports to countless kids and teens at the YMCA and at Don Bosco starting in the 1990s.
His daughter, Lashun Wainright, said the response to Thursday night’s balloon release was overwhelming but not surprising.
“He’s been working with kids ever since he was a teen,” she said.
Wainright worked as a LINC Caring Communities coordinator, coach, organizer, life mentor, pastor, and neighborhood leader, according to The Local Investment Commission.
The nonprofit works with state and local government, businesses, community, and civic leaders to improve the lives of children and families in the Kansas City region.
In an article remembering Wainright, LINC wrote, “Boys and girls, teenagers and young adults — it didn’t matter where they came from — wanted to be in his gyms. Many came from the inner city housing that Wainright’s programs served at the Don Bosco Centers and King Middle School — coming from Wayne Miner Court, Hilltop, Theron B. Watkins and others.”
FOX4 spoke with several young men who considered Wainright to be a father-figure. Kenneth Oliver is not a biological child but said he lived with Wainright for four years in his adolescent years.
“He just set the foundation of how to be a man. He just showed me there was another way out than what I was accustomed to,” he said.
Oliver also played on youth teams coached by Wainright.
“I didn’t have a father growing up. Calvin was always there making sure I had things in my life outside of basketball,” added Mike Nash. “Calvin taught me to be respectful, helped me grow into the man I am, helped me become the coach I am. Without Calvin there is no me.”
Basketball proved to be a big part of the Wainright family. One of Calvin’s sons, Ish Wainright, plays in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns. He attended Thursday’s balloon release along with his other siblings.
His sister, Lashun, spoke for the group before the 7 o’clock start. “[Our father] was something different to everyone here. They call him unc, pops, daddy of the community, and that’s what his legacy is. His main focus was to stop the violence. KC is having a problem with it, and that was his main goal.”
Besides being a coach and mentor, Wainright was also a pastor. He shared his faith with others and gave glory to God when he won the Humanitarian Award from the Kansas City People’s Choice Awards in 2020 and the Outstanding Volunteer Coach from the Missouri Park and Rec Association that same year. “I accept this right here in Jesus’ name,” he said in a video posted to the Parks and Rec page when he was presented with the award.
Calvin Wainright’s visitation is Friday, November 11 at 6 p.m. at the Lawrence A. Jones & Sons Funeral Chapels in Kansas City, Missouri.
His funeral will be held the following day, November 12, at Memorial Church International at 11 a.m. in Kansas City, Missouri.
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