Tributes pour in as Westinghouse high school basketball legend dies aged 38

Jamarcus Ellis, a Westinghouse high school basketball legend who went on to play for Indiana University, passed away at the age of 38 after succumbing to injuries sustained in a car crash.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, on Friday, October 27, 2023, Ellis reportedly lost control of his car and ran into the pillar of a viaduct just after 2 a.m. in the 1700 block of South Western Avenue.

Ellis, who was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital, was pronounced dead later. Authorities said that Ellis’ death was being investigated by the Major Accident Investigation Unit.

Community mourns the passing of basketball legend Jamarcus Ellis

In the wake of the tragic crash that claimed the life of IU basketball player Jamarcus Ellis, several people paid tribute to the man known around Chicago as “Tone-Tone” and to his close friends as “Tom-Tom.”

Quitman Dillard, Ellis’ coach at Westinghouse, described him as a son who reached out to him on every Father’s Day.

“He was a son to me. “Every Father’s Day he would text me, if not see me, to wish me a Happy Father’s Day. I’m fractured right now. [Ellis] was a beautiful individual,” Dillard said. “He was caring. He put others before himself. We were family. We were always connected. I loved him dearly.”

Ellis, who played for Westinghouse High School and led them to the city title as a senior, went on to play at junior college and then at Indiana University in 2007. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ellis then played at Oklahoma City University during his senior year of college.

Longtime friend and former teammate Deandre Thomas told the website Ellis was working as a paraprofessional at a school in the western suburbs before the accident claimed his life.

“He was my LeBron James,” Thomas said. “He was Kobe Bryant. I felt he was better than all of those guys. We just took the wrong route at the time. We were young and from the inner-city and we didn’t take the right steps. He will always be my favorite player.”

Several others also took to the internet to pay tribute to the basketball legend. A fan and a brief acquaintance of Ellis wrote:

“Man if y’all only knew the influence Jamarcus Ellis had on EVERY kid on North Avenue that wanted to hoop like Ty Turner said he was a real-life hero. The man gave me the battery in my back when I used to be timid a little he turned me way up bro.”

Meanwhile, a friend wrote an emotional tribute stating that Ellis would be dearly missed.

“This one here has crushed my whole soul. Rest peacefully Tone Tone. Thank you for all the love & respect! Thank you for letting me be part of your journey.”

Jamarcus Ellis, who is survived by three sons, reportedly lost his parents at a young age. While Ellis was seen as one of the most talented basketball players in the country, he never played professional ball.

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Edited by Anushree Madappa

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