Harvey Tucker an inspiration, keeps sons’ memories alive

2008 football season predictions horribly mistaken, but Tatum knows talent

2008 football season predictions ‘horribly mistaken,’ but Tatum knows talent

Cody Dyer

Harvey Tucker can inspire an audience.

Tucker, the father of fallen Missouri Southern basketball standout Chris Tucker, spoke to a room full of young men during a luncheon before the Freeman Sports Medicine/Chris Tucker Memorial Classic.

Harvey and members of the Tucker family, once again, made the trip to Joplin from Memphis, Tenn., this year for the tournament in Chris’ memory.

With athletes from Lincoln, Pittsburg State, Missouri Southern and Mid-America Christen in attendance, Harvey picked up the microphone and began to tell his story to the players and everyone on hand.

But it wasn’t a story of sorrow. Harvey didn’t ask for grievance.

Instead, he thanked everyone for the opportunity to be there and the privilege to stand before an elite group of coaches and athletes.

“This is not an easy job,” he told the audience of his and his family’s loss, “but I’ve learned to live with it over the years.”

Chris Tucker, who still is among the top of several career lists, played for the Lions from 1990-94 before passing away in an automobile accident. Then Harvey’s other son, Michael, would follow Chris in passing.

“It’s made me a stronger individual,” Harvey said. “They did not want to be apart, and I can accept that.”

His story is of inspiration rather than sorrow. Not many families have had to deal with as much pain as the Tuckers, but you’re not going to hear them ask for you to cry.

It’s not their nature, really.

The Tucker’s represent what we, as individuals and families, really can do when we face adversity. For Harvey and his family, the loss of their two sons made them stronger. Now, they bring a voice of inspiration to the players who inspire to be their best on and off the court.

Harvey wanted to see Chris embrace life to his fullest when he chose Missouri Southern.

“He came (to Southern) on a visit,” Harvey said, “and came back home and said, ‘Dad, I know where I’m going.’ I asked where is that? He said he was going to Missouri Southern.

“Later when I got off work, Coach (Robert) Corn was at my house and he signed him to attend Missouri Southern. My advice to him, once he made up his mind, was to finish his degree and that’s what he did.”

Shortly before Chris received his degree in marketing, he was gone.

It’s easy to forget, sometimes, how fortunate we are to have family and friends until something tragic takes place. Harvey’s message today is for all of us to embrace life to its fullest.

“I stand here today at 76 years of age still going strong,” Harvey said. “I walk in the memory of these two men.”