View from the Hilltop: Episode 8

Coping with lost parents

In the five games leading to the Dec. 22 contest at Old Dominion, senior guard Kofi Andoh has played the best basketball of his career. He scored in double figures in back-to-back wins over Shenandoah University (10 points, seven rebounds) and Central Pennsylvania (13 points, four rebounds) and has provided energy and a healthy body on a team that’s been depleted by injuries.

Those five games came after the death of his mother, Joan Wright-Andoh, on Dec. 6. The longtime employee of the Washington, D.C., and Prince George’s County health departments died after a three-year battle with colon cancer. Andoh used basketball as a distraction, but on Tuesday he had to face the difficult task of attending her funeral.

The entire Howard basketball team was at the service, including Prince Okoroh, who hasn’t played a game for Howard since 2014, when he averaged 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds. Like Andoh, Okoroh has lost a parent.

Okoroh, a chemical engineering major and a Gates Millennium Scholar, was expected to provide senior leadership the following season. But he was sidelined with a broken foot, which left him contemplating the tragic events from summer 2013 when his father, Solomon James Okoroh, was murdered while driving his cab in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington.

The bond between Okoroh and Andoh is tight: both grew up in Prince George’s, the two were rivals in high school and their families established a close friendship. When Andoh arrived at Howard, he looked up to Okoroh as a big brother. In the coming weeks, Andoh will be looking to his brother for comfort as he grieves.

And in January, the two might once again become on-court teammates. Okoroh, who is in his sixth year at Howard, has petitioned the NCAA to be reinstated for his fourth year of athletic eligibility. Okoroh and coach Kevin Nickelberry both say they expect a decision in the team’s favor next month when the conference season begins for the Bison.