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Community gathers to remember beloved basketball coach

Mike Taylor, a JV and freshman basketball coach and varsity assistant coach, was killed in a crash on the way back from a tournament. Here’s how he was remembered.

GILBERT, Ariz. — A special gathering was held Saturday to remember an East Valley high school basketball coach who was killed in a car crash.

“To not be able to watch him grow up into an amazing coach, he already was amazing, but he had so much ahead of him,” Mesquite High School athletic trainer Kim Hansen said. “And not being able to see that is the most heartbreaking thing.”

Tears fell Saturday as students, their families and staff at Mesquite High School remembered Mike Taylor, a basketball coach at the school who was killed in a crash on Interstate 10 in Goodyear on April 29

“What a selfless person he was in his life,” Matt Roberts, a parent, said. 

“We love Coach Mike,” Hansen said. “He was just one of those souls who walked into the room and you couldn’t help but smile. From the moment I started the kids loved him.”

Mike Taylor was the freshman and JV basketball coach at Mesquite. On Monday, he was coming back from a basketball tournament in California when he died.

“It’s really difficult,” Roberts said. “It’s something that I don’t think has fully sunk in. Monday morning was very rough hearing the news. I’ve come into this parking lot a number of times and I’ve seen his red car there and I don’t see it and that’s the part there where it really sinks in.”

“I found out at the start of class and unfortunately I had players of his in my class at the time,” Hansen said. “We just took the day to respect him, there was no pushing through. He deserved that, the students deserved that and everyone who needed a hug got a hug because we all needed one.”

Hansen says she worked with Coach Mike for a year and always cherished their time together. She says he was always upbeat, smiling and treated his students like family.

“I’ve worked with a lot of coaches, I never saw him yell,” she said. “He knew them, and he knew how to interact and approach things and make them feel comfortable without them feeling intimidated. And that’s a rare quality. He genuinely got their respect.”

For others, it was his dedication, kindness and zest for life they’ll cherish.

“This was a positive influence, positive person and I’m proud to have known him for the time I had and I hope the community sees what a great man he was.”

And as his family in blue pushes on there’s a bit of peace knowing Coach Mike will always be with them, cheering them on and smiling.

“I think that his kids need to know the impact he’s had on them will last a lifetime so even though he’s gone, he’s going to live on in them,” Hansen said. “He had the best aura ever, you wanted to be around him and we’re going to miss that. We’re going to miss him a lot.” 

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