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John Rankin Tribute Page
John Rankin, a basketball star at West Catholic (class of '85) and Drexel and a detective in the Phila. Police Dept., died of leukemia in April 2003. John made everyone's "one of my favorite people" list and. This page was requested by Chris Arizin, one of John's Drexel teammates, and we're hoping, though more than three years have passed since John's death, that the response will be strong. Thank you.
Look below for the wonderful obituary done
by Jack Morrison in the
Daily News, and for Ted's story about John from his West Catholic days.
Contributions . . .
John was my roommate,
teammate, and most of all friend. John had an positive impact on everyone he
met. He lit up a room as much, if not more, as he lit up opponents.
-- Chris Arizin
I had the privilege and pleasure of being John's coach at
Although his ability on the basketball court spoke for itself, my
fondest memories of John
are of his consistent class, his ever engaging personality and his
never ending big smile!
John was the full package as a student athlete at West, i.e. a good
student, a terrific player
and an even better person.
John obviously went on to continued success on the court at Drexel and
on the streets of
Philadelphia as a decorated police officer, while all the while, I'm
sure, continuing to be a positive influence on all he touched along the way.
I'm very grateful for the opportunity that I have had to be a friend
and coach of John's.
-- Pat Cassidy
This is Jay Wright from Villanova!!
I was an assistant under Eddie Burke @ Drexel in 86/87 :
We played Navy at the Palestra! Navy was top 20 with David Robinson. John was going to be matched up vs DR. I was a first year D1 assistant! John looked at me in the locker room before the game and said - "you nervous, Coach? - don't worry we got this". I was very nervous! We played great so did John and we won! We all ran up 33rd st to DU - John was so cool he kept telling me " I told you Coach - we got you ". He was one of my favorite players of all time - very good student too!
John and I played against each other
in high school in some competitive battles in which he usually won. He
was an intimidating competitor and an awesome player. When I found out
that John was going to attend Drexel and I was going to room with him, I
was even more intimidated. But from that first day, we moved in, we
were instant friends. When my friends from my high school would come
down to visit, John would give up his bed so my friends would have a
place to crash. My friends quickly became Johns friends and Johnís
There are many memories and stories that I could share, but my best memory of John which typifies who he was- One night my friends and I got into a little altercation with some neighborhood guys. John found out and came racing outside in shorts and a tee-shirt in the freezing February cold to see how he could help. He was not asked, but saw this as an opportunity to help his friends. This is one action that described who John was- as a teammate, a friend, as a person.
My children and I pray to John every night and I only wish my children had the opportunity to know John so that they may have someone to model themselves after.
-- Chris Arizin
I have so many wonderful
memories and stories about John but the one that I
will always remember happened two years after I had graduated from Drexel.
I decided to go and visit the basketball team during a practice. I don't
know why but I remember feeling a little hesitant to interrupt the practice
at that time. Maybe it was because it had been a few years since I had been
in contact with the team. As I opened the gym door John immediately came
running towards me (all 6' 7" and 240 lbs. of him) with his arms wide open
to welcome me back. I vividly remember feeling like a little kid as I was
wrapped up in his arms and literally lifted off the ground. It was as
genuine and warm as it gets -- just like John. He was a man with a huge
heart and a tremendous passion for life. I am grateful for having shared
some beautiful life experiences both on and off the court with such a great
person. May God Bless him and his family.
-- Patrick Rafferty
John and I were classmates at Drexel, and he was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. His physical size was imposing, but he was always smiling, and everyone liked him. He was a great guy!!!