Sunday, May 28, 2023

Friends, former teammates remember former Berkeley High, Cal player killed in I-880 shooting

Friends and former teammates reacted with dismay and sadness Sunday at the killing of a former 1970s-era standout University of California basketball player who was fatally shot Friday evening while driving on Interstate 880 in Oakland.

Hailing his “flash and flair,” former teammates paid tribute to Gene Ransom as a Cal Athletics Hall of Famer who, after his playing career ended, sought to use basketball as a way to reduce violence across the East Bay through after-school basketball games and clinics. His death was confirmed by Doug Harris, a longtime friend who has been acting as a spokesman for the family, as well as by a statement from Ransom’s son provided to ABC7.

“It was a pleasure to play with him—we had kind of like an ESP (extrasensory perception) between each other,” said Ruppert Jones, a former teammate who went on to play baseball in the majors for, among others, the Seattle Mariners , the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres. “Even as a sophomore, he was a very intelligent basketball player.

“He has a legacy that will stand the test of time.”

The killing marks the latest in a string of deadly shootings on freeways within Oakland. Last month, an Alameda County sheriff’s recruit died while driving home from a training academy class. And in 2021, the California Highway Patrol investigated five killings, including a toddler hit by a stray bullet on I-880, and a woman who was fatally shot near the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza.

The most recent happened Friday, when California Highway Patrol investigators suspect a man driving a black Lexus sedan opened fire on a Honda Civic as both traveled north on I-880. The Civic veered to the right and struck a guardrail, the highway patrol said.

Firefighters found a man dead inside from an apparent gunshot wound at about 5:45 pm Friday near the Broadway off-ramp, the Oakland Fire Department reported.

Juan Angel Garcia, 25, of San Francisco was booked into the Alameda County Jail on suspicion of murder in connection to the shooting, California Highway Patrol officials said Saturday.

To many in the East Bay, Gene was known simply at “The Dream” in the 1970s for his slick moves, no-look passes and — despite his relatively small 5-foot-9 frame — uncanny ability to cut through defenses and score, seemingly at will. He was later inducted into the Cal Athletics Hall of Fame.

“He was one of the most exciting players in the game,” said Raymond Bell, a former teammate at Berkeley High School. “He could basically take over a game. He had the ball-handling skills that far exceeded anybody in the area. He was doing things that no one else could do.”

The killing came with the grim irony that Ransom had spent many of his post-playing days working for Athletes United for Peace — a nonprofit that sought to reduce violence in cities across the East Bay by hosting basketball games and clinics. They included Friday night games that lasted until 1 am, which kept countless teens on the basketball court out of trouble, Harris said.

“The very thing we rolled our sleeves up to work to prevent, he was a victim of,” Harris said. “And it’s just hard, man, that he would die from the things that we were working to prevent.”


World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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