CINCINNATI — Darren Davenport would always welcome a conversation about basketball.
He enjoyed coaching, officiating and helping young student-athletes around Greater Cincinnati in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) competition. He had friends everywhere.
"He was just a tremendous man," Deer Park football coach Calvin Johnson said. "I don't know you could find a nicer person."
Yet, it was Davenport's family which meant everything to him.
Davenport, a former Mount Healthy basketball star in the 1980s and the father of University of Cincinnati sophomore guard Jeremiah Davenport, died early Monday. He was 55.
"Darren's death is a huge loss to the Cincinnati basketball community," said Woodward assistant boys basketball coach Paul McMillan III.
"His family is the first basketball family of Cincinnati. His legacy is a strong man of God that loved his family and touched so many lives through basketball."
Darren Davenport and his wife, Sheila, have five children who have played basketball at a high level including four in NCAA Division I competition.
McMillan and his son, Woodward 2022 point guard Paul McMillan IV, were in the gym Sunday night playing with Jeremiah and his elder brother Josh as Darren sat and watched. Darren died hours later.
"We are sending all of our love and support to Jeremiah and his family as they deal with this tragic loss," the UC athletic department said in a statement. "We will do everything we can to support them during this difficult time."
Davenport, a 1984 Mount Healthy graduate, played at Alcorn State and later Northern Kentucky University, according to Mount Healthy boys basketball coach Adair Carmichael.
Davenport's athleticism was the talk around the school and elsewhere during his playing days. His dunks were well known.
"He is considered one of the best basketball players at Mount Healthy and the city," Carmichael said. "He was one of the first big guards. Darren was 6-5 and he could play all five positions and play it well."
Later, Davenport stayed involved in the game any way he could. He coached in the Queen City Prophets AAU program. He officiated for several years including this past weekend.
Johnson had just officiated some middle school boys basketball games with Davenport on April 3.
The longtime friends chatted between games on Saturday about the Cincinnati sports landscape and reminisced about their playing days.
Johnson noticed how Davenport stayed a bit longer to catch up with those in the gym.
That irony wasn't lost on Johnson after he received a phone call Monday morning about Davenport's death.
"Just a shock," Johnson said. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been in a daze all morning."
The Cincinnati basketball community expressed condolences and shared memories Monday morning and afternoon on social media about Darren Davenport.
Moeller coach Carl Kremer enjoyed coaching Michael, Josh and Jeremiah. He remembers Darren's commitment to the family.
"He was an incredibly supportive parent," Moeller coach Carl Kremer said. "All three kids were tremendous to coach. It's just a terrible loss."
Darren Davenport's wife, Sheila, played at Morehead State. Their daughters have played basketball.
Naomi played at Mount Notre Dame and later West Virginia, while Deborah is a rising senior at Woodward.
"What I remember the most is the love that (Darren) had for his family and Naomi and Deborah," Kremer said. "His family was first and he loved basketball and helping kids out."
Covington Catholic assistant basketball coach Joe Fredrick said Darren Davenport was loved by all who knew him.
"He was such a great guy," Fredrick said. "In the basketball circle we always said that he is the GOAT of Cincinnati basketball when you look at his kids and what they achieved. Every kid playing Division I basketball – it's unheard of. And he did it in such a way where he was such a faith-filled man. He was such a class guy."