Summary

Birth:
09 Dec 1963 1
Death:
11 Sep 2003 1
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Full Name:
Kent L Poole 1
Birth:
09 Dec 1963 1
Death:
11 Sep 2003 1
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Social Security:
Card Issued: Unknown Code (FO) 1
Social Security Number: ***-**-2910 1

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Stories

Basketball hero's life ends in suicide

ADVANCE, Ind. — In the movie Hoosiers, he was the little guard who spoke from the heart.

Remember the Hickory Huskers? In real life, Kent Poole was the most Hoosier of them all. A small-town Indiana high school star who landed a spot in a famous movie, but then stayed home to farm and coach his kids.

So he wasn't acting when he delivered the movie's signature line. "Let's win this one for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here."

One of the great moments in sports film history. I could watch it forever.

Kent Poole was buried Sunday at the age of 39. Early last Thursday morning, he took his own life in his yard.

The three middle-aged men sit around a table in a farmhouse. Out the window are cornfields and country roads, as if scenery from the movie.

"He loved the entertainment part of it. He was a people person," Kim Demaree is saying about Poole. "That movie was the way he lived his life. He liked the little school spirit."

Demaree was Poole's closest friend, and farming partner. It was Demaree who spent last Wednesday night with Poole at a restaurant and karaoke bar.

It was Demaree who Poole called later and asked for help after he had wrecked his truck at a rural intersection, and walked home. It was Demaree who found Poole 35 minutes after that, hanging from a tree near his house.

"We had been making plans for the next day," he says. "We were going to meet with another farmer."

There was not a sign that night. Not a hint. Only questions now that will never be answered.

"Sure I wonder. Everybody does," Demaree says. "Nobody who was around him saw anything."

But the men knew of their friend's demons. Poole had fought depression for years. Like millions do. They had devoured his marriage. He had made some poor choices. A divorce was pending, though he had remained close to his two daughters and son.

Depression can be an awful force. It had thrown a shadow in nearly every corner of Poole's life. In the end, apparently, it had had taken the will to reason away from the heady guard from Hoosiers. And the farmer from Advance.

"I think he just felt like in the last years he let some people down," Demaree says. "And it troubled him.

"He didn't want to be that way."

Andrew Mitchell nods. He was a former teammate. In real life, not the movie.

"Kent never wanted to ever take a step backward. He had always fought, in basketball, in life, in farming. It wasn't an option to lose. It wasn't a way out.

"He has a boy who plays basketball. We were talking how none of us could fathom how low he would have been to give up seeing that."

At the other end of the table, Terry Dickerson says softly, "I think what's so hard for us, is that he actually gave up."

Small-town communities bond against inexplicable tragedy. More than 1,300 people were at Poole's calling Saturday. The hometown boy some had jokingly nicknamed "Hollywood" after the movie made it big.

"It's disbelief," Demaree says. "I expect to see his name pop up on my phone."

The guys met after the funeral Sunday to talk over old times. The 1982 season, when Poole nearly helped take his small school team to the Indiana state finals. The 1986 film, when he helped do it on film.

"I'm not going to view his life through that movie," Mitchell says. "because I got to see it for real."

Not far away, a troubled man's house now sits empty. But still on the wall is a maroon uniform. No. 12. Kent Poole's jersey from Hoosiers.

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