Atlanta Celtics Lose Their Leader

Wallace Prather, 51, one of the biggest figures in traveling team basketball, died Saturday morning in Georgia. Prather, one of the co-founders of the Atlanta Celtics, will be sorely missed by the entire basketball community.

Those who knew Wallace Prather could paint the same picture. With a deep, southern drawl and his trademark "chewstick" dangling out of his mouth, Prather was always quick to great you with a handshake and a smile.

In the early 1990's, he co-founded the Atlanta Celtics with Karl McCray and the team quickly became one of the most prominent AAU teams on the circuit. In watching the Celtics, play you were guaranteed to see two things: elite players and Wallace Prather.

Since its inception, Prather and the Celtics organization have been responsible for sending hundreds of kids to college. Though Prather had two players – Dwight Howard and Josh Smith – drafted in the 2004 NBA Lottery, his proudest moment might have been when he told you about his son who played at Cornell.

The grassroots basketball community lost one of its key figures this weekend. Everybody in college basketball knew Wallace Prather and had a story about him. I first met the man in 1997 and he took me under his wing and politely explained to me how no one in the country had better players than he did!

This spring, he jokingly introduced me a few times to folks as his "son." I called my dad on Father's Day and told him I loved him. I'll sit down today and have a conversation with Wallace and hopefully he'll know I loved him too.

Everybody did.

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