Former Washington Star Honors Late Coach with Birthday Present

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WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Next week may be tough for Devon Vanderheydt.

He’s leaving home to go Lewis University where he’ll play college basketball.

“It’s life,” Vanderheydt said. “I have to move on, college basketball is my dream. I want to live up to my dream.”

He may be leaving his hometown but he’s taking part of Washington with him. The recent Washington High School grad says he always wanted a way to honor his former coach Kevin Brown, who died of brain cancer two years ago.

This summer, on his birthday, Vanderheydt had a tattoo he designed put on his chest. The ink spells out the date of Coach Brown’s death, June 11, 2019, in Roman numerals.

“I wanted it on my chest,. Once I turned 18, I knew I had to get it,” said Vanderheydt who admitted he would wanted to get the tattoo a year ago but his father wouldn’t let him. “

“Now, he’s always with me.”

Vanderheydt joins other former Washington Panthers honoring Coach Brown this way.

Matt Nicholson, who played for Brown in his first season as Washingotn coach in 2005, has a ‘KB Strong’ tattoo on his shoulder. Nick Finney, who played for Brown and graduated in 2011, has the KB Strong Foundation logo on his arm.

“It shows how much he inspired people around him,” Vanderheydt said.

Devon’s father Jerry played basketball at Creighton and has tried to prepare his son for life as a college student-athlete. The younger Vanderheydt knows it’ll be an adjustment being away from home and being on a new team.

He also knows he’ll have teammates, roommates and college friends who have no idea who Kevin Brown was. And that tattoo will open the door for him to talk about the man who helped get him to college.

“I’ve got players from all around the country coming (to campus). They have no idea. It’s going to be a great story to tell,” Vanderheydt said. “A lot of funny stories and serious stories on what he means for my life and what he means to me and my family.”

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