A young Port Coquitlam basketball player who passed away last October is being memorialized with a fitting tribute.
Last Saturday, the basketball court at Eastern Drive Park, in the city’s Citadel Heights neighbourhood, was officially named “2K’s Court” after Karin Khuong, whose nickname was “2K.”
She was playing for the Terry Fox Ravens junior girls team when tumours were discovered in her chest and stomach in September 2018.
While aggressive treatment for her rare soft-tissue childhood cancer kept Khuong off the court that season as her teammates rolled to a perfect 35-0 record and a 76-36 win over the Kelowna Owls in the 2019 provincial championship, she returned with the senior team the following season as her disease went into remission.
But the respite was short-lived and Khuong was only able to cheer from the bench when the Ravens reached the 2020 senior AAA championship final.
Steve Frost, whose wife, Teena, spearheaded the effort to get the outdoor basketball court named after Khuong, said it was the right way to remember the young player on what would have been her 17th birthday, and hopefully inspire other kids to find their passion shooting hoops.
It shouldn’t be too hard, added Frost, as the court is always alive with the sound of kids bouncing balls.
Khuong was often one of those kids, Frost said, gravitating to the court with his own daughter, Kianna, after school and on weekends.
In fact, they spent so much time playing basketball that Teena Frost decided to start a free girls program at nearby Castle Park Elementary School so they could come in out of the rain and dribble on real hardwood.
Some of the kids — now teenagers — from that program, as well as coaches like Bruce Langford, Rich Chambers and Brad Pedersen, along with teachers and principals from Castle Park, Citadel Middle School and Terry Fox Secondary were part of the contingent of about 200 that were on hand for the unveiling of a sign for the basketball court and a new memorial bench that overlooks it.
The sign, which depicts Khuong driving to the basket with the help of a pair of angel's wings, was designed by a Fox student. The bench provides a perch where parents can watch their charges play, or players can just retreat for a rest.
“It will be a legacy,” Frost said, adding a lot of the kids who started playing at the outdoor court are now involved playing for school or club programs and some are making their way to the basketball teams at Simon Fraser University, where he’s the associate director of marketing and communications for the athletics department.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West, who also attended last Saturday’s event along with several councillors and representatives from the city’s parks and recreation department who helped make the project a reality, noted on social media that “it was an incredibly moving day” that “will ensure that the future generations of our community will know the story of this remarkable young woman.”
Frost said even though the reason for everyone gathering was sad and poignant, it was also uplifting to see and hear about all the people that Khuong had touched and how her own love for basketball reverberated out into the community and the people around her.
“It felt bigger than basketball,” Frost said. “It may have been the starting point, but it just gets so alive with community. The tentacles stretch far and wide.”