At the news last month that former Baylor player Chameka Scott had died from cancer, I started to cry. Over the next few days, I sent out tweets in remembrance of Scott, who died on Jan. 21 at the age of 33. Someone asked me what my special connection with her was.
I didn't have one -- yet somehow felt connected. I had covered several of Baylor's games during Scott's career, from 2002-06. I did a couple of features on her. Said hello when I saw her with the Sacramento Monarchs during the 2006 WNBA season, and at some Baylor games over the years.
In 2016, when I heard she had colon cancer, I wrote a feature during Play4Kay week on Scott and former Texas player Tiffany Jackson-Jones, who had breast cancer. Scott was exactly as she always had been: charming, bright, funny and personable. She talked about how the skills from playing basketball transferred well to her job as a performance coach on a deep-sea oil rig, and how being an athlete transferred to battling cancer.
About a week before Scott died, I heard she had had a relapse. Then, so tragically, so quickly, she was gone.
Scott was a lot like Kay Yow in that it made you feel good just to speak with her. She had an amazing aura. Her former teammate and roommate at Baylor, Jordan Davis, sums it up well: "Chameka was the one everybody wanted to be around. She just had this energy and this presence that, even if you didn't know her, you wanted to talk to her."
As the women's basketball world remembers Yow during the 12th annual Play4Kay event and continues raising funds in the fight against cancer, here are recollections of Scott from some of those who loved her most. In talking with them, I realized why Scott had impacted me so much. She was the kind of person with whom any connection was special.
Kim Mulkey, Baylor coach
She took over at Baylor in April 2000 after 15 years as an assistant at her alma mater, Louisiana Tech, and Scott was one of her first recruits and was a starting guard on their 2005 national championship team.
"I remember going to her high school, and sat in that lunch room, and we couldn't really have a conversation. Because every time the bell would ring, a different set of kids would come through, and they all had to stop and talk to Chameka. She was a magnet to people."
Rick May, Baylor radio play-by-play announcer
Asked a favorite funny memory, he recalled a Sweet 16 game versus Minnesota in 2005, during Baylor's NCAA championship run.
"Late in the game, Abiola [Wabara] and Minnesota's Janel McCarville were going after a rebound, and Abi got pretty upset. You remember Abi was from Italy, and she was multi-lingual. Anyway, Chameka grabbed her and was trying to hold her back and calm her down. After the game, on the radio, we asked Chameka, 'So what was Abi saying to her?' And Chameka said, 'I don't know, but she said it in six different languages.' "
Jennifer Roberts, Baylor coordinator of basketball operations
"We were sitting on the bus getting ready to go to the arena for that 2005 national championship game with Michigan State. And Chameka said she knew we would win as soon as she saw Coach Mulkey walk out to the bus in her blue suit. Everybody just died laughing when she said it.
"The night before we left for the Final Four, I was walking around the mall and I saw that suit and got it, and took it for Kim. Everyone thought it had something to do with Louisiana Tech, because of the color. But it really had nothing to do with that. I just thought it was great because blue is a good color for her. I think when she wore it, it blew everybody away. That's why Chameka said, 'Coach is bringing it tonight. We're going to win!' "
Julie Bennett, former Baylor sports information director for women's basketball
"When the media wanted to talk to her, there was never an attitude like, 'Oh, do I have to?' It was always, 'Sure, I'll do it.' She was just a joy to be around. And hysterical -- you never knew what she was going to say ... but it was always funny. Never mean.
"Her last two years, she did a blog, and I never had to worry about it. I knew I was going to get it on time, and it going to be well-written and I wouldn't have to edit anything out. She was just one of those dream kids."
Jordan Davis, Baylor player from 2001-06
She was Scott's roommate in college, and is now a teacher and coach in the Dallas area. She and former teammates Wabara and Chelsea Whitaker were at Scott's bedside when she died.
"Remember when the Pacers and Pistons fought [in 2004] at The Palace? Chameka had this idea, 'Let's recreate it and film it.' We all were assigned our roles, and we did it after shootaround. It was hilarious. Whenever there was big game coming up, or she felt like people were feeling pressure, she'd come up with stuff to keep it light and fun.
"She radiated so much personality. I came home one night, and there were a couple of guys hanging out in the living room. They said, 'Uh, we met Chameka, and she said we could crash here.' Turns out they were soldiers from Fort Hood who'd been on leave, and their ride had left, thinking they had another way back. Chameka started talking to them in a restaurant and said, 'You guys in the military do so much for us, we can at least give you a place to stay until your ride can come back.'
"The funny thing is, one of those guys ended up marrying one of our soccer players at Baylor! Chameka was the matchmaker. She said, 'There's this girl I think you'd like ...' and sure enough, they started dating and got married."
Lori Fogleman, Baylor assistant vice president of media communications and radio analyst
"Chameka and I reconnected over our challenges with Crohn's disease. We could talk through shared experiences. She was an honorary member of my team, named the Gut-Wrenchers, that raised money in a Crohn's/colitis fundraising walk. We talk about lights a lot at Baylor; that we're called to be a light in the world. Chameka was a light, and I'm confident her light will never be extinguished because of the life she led."
Chelsea Whitaker, Baylor player from 2002-05
She started in the backcourt with Scott on the 2005 national championship team, and is now a police officer in Dallas.
"There was a homeless guy who Chameka paid to wash her car, and some other people's cars, to give him a job and some dignity. There was always somebody around her who she was trying to make feel complete.
"She spread love; she gave love. Chameka was the light of my life, and the light of a lot of people's lives. If you look at her Facebook page, there's black people, white people, men, women, kids, old people, homeless, rich. She could reach anybody. No matter where you were from, she could find something in common with you."
Charmaine Scott, Chameka's mother
"She spoke in complete sentences at 18 months. And then when she was a little girl, she would walk around the house with a notepad and pencil, and she would 'interview' everyone. Her dream at that time was to become a reporter. She'd sit you down and ask you questions.
"In daycare, she knew everybody. In kindergarten, she knew everybody. Through school, it was always like that. She loved to communicate. She was sarcastic and so funny. Even when she was sick, she'd come up with some funny remark.
"What really has sustained me is, when we were given the final diagnosis -- that they had done all they could do -- I broke down and cried. She didn't. And when I asked her why, she said, 'Because I'm at peace with God, and I know where I am going.' "