The Granite Bear family lost one of its own Thursday as former basketball player and coach Erette Bobbitt passed away.
Bobbitt, 27, had been battling cancer since last year. He died one week after his grandmother, Nancy Alice Banks Bobbitt.
He leaves behind a wife, Brooke, and two small children, but he also leaves behind a legacy both in athletics and in education.
He spent four years as a teacher at Jones Intermediate before stepping up to curriculum coach at Tharrington Elementary.
This past May Bobbitt received a superintendent’s award from Mount Airy City Schools.
In giving the award, Superintendent Gregory Little described Bobbitt’s enthusiasm as contagious and said he worked hard each day to instill confidence in the children he taught.
“He is someone that constantly blows me away with his attitude, perseverance, and outlook on life. Despite facing incredible challenges he never gives in or gives up,” said Little. “He always has a smile on his face and is quick with joke, but he is serious about kids and about them reaching their full potential.”
That sums Erette up pretty well, agreed Levi Goins. The Bears’ basketball coach said, “He was the kind of guy who lit up the room when he came in. He would share a joke and a smile.
“It was a great pleasure to know him and be around him so long,” said Goins. “Everyone around him felt the same way.”
For Goins, this was a friendship that dated back to his childhood.
“I’ve known him since I was five,” said Goins. “We all very sad and heartbroken that he’s gone.”
Erette was small in stature, but big in heart and determination, agreed Goins and former Bear coach Kevin Spainhour.
“It didn’t matter if it was basketball or board games, he was the most competitive person I’ve ever been around in my life,” said Goins.
When Erette joined the bench as an assistant coach, there were nights when a referee would come by and recall a game he covered where Erette’s feisty and energetic play stuck with him for years to come.
Spainhour said he had gotten three calls from opposing coaches who all mentioned Erette’s competitive nature and desire to win.
All three coaches said he was the toughest kid they ever coached against, which is remarkable considering Erette graduated way back in 2006, said Spainhour.
“Erette was on my first team at Mount Airy,” said Spainhour. Over his nine years with the Bears, Spainhour coached all three Bobbitt brothers: Erette, Dillon and Taylor.
Erette was an assistant coach for Taylor’s senior year, so the brothers got to have some good experiences together, Spainhour noted.
In his first year at Mount Airy, Spainhour’s team went 3-21. By the time Erette was a senior, the Bears won 23 games and advanced to the Western Regional finals.
During that playoff run, the Bears faced Thomasville, the defending state champions.
“They had some racehorses,” said Spainhour. “We had no business staying with them.”
Erette didn’t score a point, but he willed that team to victory over a better opponent.
Spainhour said possibly his most precious moment from coaching was walking into the locker room after that game and seeing Erette clutching that sectional trophy like it was the NBA Finals trophy. Erette knew the team had overcome a great obstacle.
But he couldn’t overcome his last opponent.
The funeral service will be Saturday afternoon. The Bobbitt family will receive friends from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Moody Funeral Home, with services to follow.