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Legacy lives on

AHOSKIE – A fitting tribute was paid Friday night.

At the conclusion of the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament, Ridgecroft School retired the jersey of the tournament’s namesake.

“It is my pleasure tonight to be able to announce to you a first at Ridgecroft School,” Athletic Director Doug Cobbs said. “Nick Brantley played the game of basketball with passion. He excelled in the classroom.

“Nick always gave back to Ridgecroft more than he received,” he continued. “Nick was just a good person, so it is my pleasure to announce the retirement of jersey number 24 in Nick’s honor.”

With the announcement, Cobbs unveiled the number 24 jersey in a case that will be hung in the school’s gym to honor the career and the life of the late Nick Brantley.

Nick Brantley was a student-athlete at Ridgecroft School who played every sport he participated in with passion and principle. He left Ridgecroft and went on to further his education at Virginia Tech. Afterwards he joined the United States Navy. He lost his life in training exercises off the coast of North Carolina in 2005.

Brantley’s parents, Joyce and Keith Brantley, and his wife, Mary Ruth, were in attendance during the tournament’s closing ceremonies.

“Shocking,” Keith Brantley said when asked to describe the event. “We appreciated it so much.

“Last year when they gave us his jersey, that was a blessing,” he said. “Having them retire his jersey was such a special thing for us and for Nicholas.”

Joyce Brantley said she too was amazed when Cobbs made the announcement.

“It was a complete surprise and just an overwhelmingly generous thing for the faculty and staff at Ridgecroft School to do,” Joyce Brantley said. “It was just wonderful.”

While she was pleased to have her son honored posthumously, Joyce Brantley said she hoped it was the last time the school would have to so honor someone.

“I hope they never have to retire another jersey like this,” she said. “Nobody wants to have to do it this way.”

Brian Overton, who grew up with Nick Brantley, was also in attendance and said it meant so much to him to see Brantley honored by the school.

“We grew up together and he was like a brother to me, so I guess I feel like the family does,” Overton said. “It was very emotional for all of us.”

He also said the type of person Nick was should be remembered.

“If you’re going to start somewhere, there’s no better place to start than with Nick,” Overton said. “He sets a high standard. What he stood for, how he lived his life, is a great example to the students who are there now.”

Cobbs said that reminder is exactly what the school had in mind.

“There will always be a reminder for our students of what Nick contributed, not just to Ridgecroft, but to Virginia Tech and to his country,” Cobbs said.

Cobbs said the jersey retirement meant no basketball player, male or female, at the school would ever wear the number 24 again.