In every nook and cranny of the Ferrell Center, you could feel Chameka Scott’s presence.
You thought about her when spotting the “CS” initials inscribed on the court and on Baylor’s jerseys. Memories rushed back with the showing of video tributes. Chameka’s family members, including her parents, and old Lady Bear teammates filled several rows of seats behind the home team basket.
So, it seems appropriate that the current Lady Bears delivered an effort that Scott would have appreciated.
“She would (enjoy the game),” said Chelsea Whitaker, Scott’s former backcourt mate. “She would actually probably deflect from all the attention being on her. But she would love it. She loves Baylor, we’re all Bears through and through.”
When cancer stole the final bit of life away from Scott on Sunday at the far-too-soon age of 33, it also took something away from everyone who knew her. It left a Chameka-sized hole in our hearts. She was the kind of person you don’t forget – generous, funny, thoughtful, optimistic.
And as tough as boot leather. Remember, she held the defensive stopper role on Baylor’s 2005 national championship squad. Her job was to stick to the opponent’s top perimeter threat and make their lives miserable.
So, yeah, she would have appreciated the kind of wear-ya-down defense Baylor applied to Texas in Thursday night’s 81-56 beatdown.
“I can just see that smile,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “She was a magnet to people. She made them feel good about themselves.”
Athletes always describe their teammates as family members. In the case of Scott and her fellow Lady Bears, it was more than empty words or a novel idea. Not only did they love each other then, but that love didn’t fade once they all left Waco.
Think that 2015 reunion to honor the 10-year-anniversary of the national title was the first? Think again. Scott, Whitaker, Sophia Young, Jordan Davis, Abiola Wabara – they got together all the time. Theirs was more than a Facebook-comment, surface-level kind of friendship.
“Up and down (Interstate) 45, her coming to Dallas, us going to Houston, vacations, Vegas, San Diego, wherever,” Whitaker said. “We feed off each other, and we grew up to be women together.
“It’s just really eerie being here without her. Watching them play, hearing the songs, hearing the fight song, it’s just a lot. It’s a lot more than I thought it would be, just being in this arena without my shooting guard.”
In Scott’s final days, her teammates became her nurses. They’d pound her back to clear her airways, bring her water, do whatever they could to try to help her feel as comfortable as possible. They were with her to the end.
And, naturally, they didn’t need any coaxing when Mulkey asked them to be there for Thursday’s game. Nor did they need the videos or the patches or the moment of silence in order to remember their friend.
Chameka had friends everywhere. If you met her once, she welcomed you with a smile. Twice, and she added your name to that friendly greeting.
“(Her legacy is) what she did for others,” Whitaker said. “She never met a stranger. She welcomed everyone. She took in most of the recruits when we were here, because she was so friendly and could get along with anybody. No matter what was going on in her life, she always projected positivity on others.”
Texas coach Karen Aston recruited Scott when she was a Lady Longhorn assistant under Jody Conradt, and was heartbroken when she heard the news of Scott’s passing.
“My deepest condolences to her family and the Baylor family. … Unbelievable young woman,” Aston said. “Just really sad to see someone lose their life so young, and I think you can clearly see the impact she had on the people she surrounded herself with.”
That’s part of why it’s so hard. When someone makes an impact like Chameka Scott did, their loss is felt all the deeper.
“It’s just, why her? It really doesn’t make sense,” Whitaker said. “But God’s will is God’s will, and here we are.”