Local Crew Recruit Dies at 18; Friends, Family Mourn Loss





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On April 5, 2002 Cal lost a lifelong Bears' fan and soon-to-be student athlete, John Gregory Rhodes, who died in a car accident.

Rhodes, 18, was to graduate this June from Acalanes High School, located in nearby Lafayette. Rhodes was to fulfill a lifelong dream this coming fall, continuing his education and athletic career at Cal.

A standout sportsman and athlete throughout his life, Rhodes excelled at basketball in high school. This past season, he scored two game-winning three-point shots for the 20-6 Dons.

Though a clutch player, coaches and friends emphasize Rhodes' support for his teammates.

At 6-foot-5, Rhodes had a notable and dominant presence. His body-type and athletic background were recognized by the Cal men's crew team.

Rhodes was set to attend Berkeley in the fall and begin his rowing career for the highly successful program.

Rhodes took pride in his acceptance to Cal and eagerly awaited the opportunities that he would find.

John's father, Greg, graduated from Cal in the 1960s, as did his uncle. John looked forward to staying close to home and joining his older sister Jessica at Cal, a senior and former women's soccer player.

"He was very excited to come here in the fall," Jessica said. "And I was excited for him to come. He was a great Bear and would have made Cal a better place."

Rhodes' passion for and dedication to sports extended far beyond the playing field. He was a devoted San Francisco Giants fan and considered pursuing broadcasting or sports management as possible careers.

The Giants organization honored his passing, and the loss of one of their most dedicated fans, by dedicating their television and radio broadcasts of a game last week in John's memory.

Furthermore, team president Peter MaGowan, manager Dusty Baker and outfielder Barry Bonds all wrote letters to Rhodes' family in John's honor. The letters were read by John's grandfather, Harvey, at the memorial service held last Wednesday in Lafayette.

More than 1,500 people attended the service to honor John's memory, including Cal Athletic Director and men's crew coach Steve Gladstone.

"John was a driven guy who had high expectations and was able to attain them," Gladstone said. "But John did it with joy and humor and expansiveness. And that's the combination that every coach on the planet looks for."

In a ceremony later this season, the crew team will name one of its boats after Rhodes.

"As a reminder to all of us," Gladstone said. "It's just such a loss."

A scholarship fund has been started at Cal in Rhodes' name. Checks can be made out to UC Regents, note John G Rhodes Memorial Fund, and sent to Bear Backers, 2223 Fulton Street, Third Floor, #4424, Berkeley, CA, 94720-4424.

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