West Memphis is saying goodbye to one of its all-time greats Friday night at Lehr Arena.
Chris Moore, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, will play his last game for the West Memphis Blue Devils at home when his team takes on Mountain Home.
The Auburn signee will leave a historical legacy.
He became the first-ever Blue Devil to play four years at the varsity level, and he will no doubt be the all-time leader in points and rebounds when he is finally through after play is over in the Class 5A state tournament.
But what Moore also leaves behind, and perhaps most importantly, is the memory of a polite, upstanding, coachable and affable young man.
The statistics measured in points, rebounds, blocks, assists and victories have been well-documented over the last four years. What we will touch on today, however, is the imprint he left on those outside the Blue Devil basketball program.
Here are comments from several who have known Chris in a personal way over his West Memphis basketball career:
Jonesboro head coach Wes Swift
"I think Chris is a better person than he is a basketball player. He's one of the best teammates I've ever been around in my life. I think if you look up the word winner in the dictionary, if it doesn't have Chris Moore's face by it, then I don't know whose face it's going to be. He's one of the finest teenage basketball players in the United States of America. I've coached Chris on the AAU Circuit, and I've seen him guard 6-foot-10 to 7-foot guys and win time after time. But I guess my favorite memories of Chris, for whatever reason, is when he's on the bench. I'm watching him making five dudes out on the court better, and that's a skill that not many people have. Many people might think that may be an embarrassing thing over there on the bench, but Chris totally gets it. He can be standing right beside me on the sideline swinging his towel, cheering on his teammates. A couple of times he'd hit me with that towel. The year I coached him for The Woodz, we were the No. 1-ranked travel team in the country on all the shoe circuits until the very last poll before they moved Indiana Elite to No. 1."
Mayor Marco McClendon
"Chris is a very intelligent young man. I'm very proud of him. As mayor, I can see that he represents West Memphis with class. I know his momma, he comes from good stock. I also believe he will be so beneficial for the Auburn Tigers next year, and I look forward to following him all the way up to the NBA, and even in retirement, to see all the great things he's going to do in his life. One thing about Chris is, he's a big guy, but he's also a very humble young man. He's very aware of what's going on around him. I'm very excited about his basketball career, but what I see is the very fine young man he's growing into. That's what I'm more pleased and happy about."
Jennifer Presley, teacher at AWM
"I've taught Chris for three years, and he's a great kid. What I think stands out about Chris is there are some students that every teacher would love to have, and Chris is that kind of kid. You can tell he's had family support and parental input in his life. His behavior in the classroom is exceptional and his academic motivation is also exceptional. He has set up goals for his life, and not only has he set them for himself athletically, he has also set up academic goals for himself. I think that's what makes him the different type of student he is. He's decided who he wants to be athletically and also academically."
Alvin Hawkins, brother
"The four years here have gone by so quick. You're looking at a kid who was probably a little scared when he got here as a ninth-grader, but coach Marcus (Brown) believed in Chris. Now he's matured into a kid who wants the moment. That's growth within itself. His game has changed and he's learned a lot. He was a good slice of steak when he got here as a ninth-grader, but he had no seasoning. He's a finished product now.
"I'll give you a good example of that. He wanted to go to his freshman prom, and he had a big-time showcase tournament to play in, and I told him, 'Chris, when you're at this level there are certain things you have to sacrifice.' After that, he never talked about certain social functions. He kind of understands the business of it now. I think a lot of what he's about comes from our parents. He has older parents, and they have instilled into him old-school values."
Shirley Moore, mother
"I think his personality and his values come from both me and my husband. His dad is quiet and very serene. I'm a people person, though. I just enjoy being around people, and I think Chris is the same way. We knew very early that basketball was going to be his thing. When he was about 2 or 3, we gave him a soccer ball, a football, and a basketball. Well, he kicked the soccer ball away and after playing with the football a little while he threw that ball away. He got the basketball and just started bouncing it all over the house. He'd break things with that ball, but after a while we all knew something was going to come from that basketball.
"We all have really enjoyed his four years as a West Memphis Blue Devil. Friday night is going to be a bitter-sweet moment for me. But he's got the great memories from playing ball here. He's been a good child, the people of West Memphis love him, but he has to move on from here after these next few games."