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Former Amphi basketball standout Jackson Ruai dies in automobile accident at age 21

Jackson Ruai often expressed himself on the basketball court docket with his flamboyant identity, which included carrying various coloured sneakers, participating in excellent-natured trash chatting and celebrating overtly just after scoring.

I was privileged to have the prospect to ask Ruai about making the most of himself on the court docket, constantly flashing his acquainted smile, following Amphi’s pivotal get above region rival Palo Verde as a senior in 2018-19.

“I just try to have enjoyment with it,” Ruai claimed. “At the finish of the working day, a single time, the ball is heading to prevent bouncing, so I just check out to have as much enjoyable as I can.”

Tragically, the ball has stopped bouncing for Jackson Joseph Ruai. His family members, the Amphi neighborhood and Southern Arizona basketball circles are shaken by it.

The complicated news surfaced Sunday that Ruai died in an auto incident in El Paso on Saturday night time.

The Course of 2019 standout was only 21.

Ruai was raised in Tucson after he was born in South Sudan. In accordance to the South Sudan Basketball Association world wide web site, Ruai preferred to use his higher education training toward developing health-related development prospects during the South Sudan.

He recently entered his identify in the transfer portal adhering to his sophomore calendar year at NAIA university Oakland Town (Ind.).

He performed his freshman period in 2019-20 with the College of Southern Idaho, a junior higher education in Twin Falls, Idaho.

He signed with Oakland City just after not playing for a college or university in 2020-21. He nevertheless had three a long time of eligibility remaining due to the fact he did not participate in in a video game for the Mighty Oaks in 2021-22.

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The very first time I met Ruai was 6 many years ago at a Boys & Ladies Club gymnasium in Las Vegas all through the summer season when he and other customers of the Arizona-based mostly Powerhouse Hoops 15U group ended up seeking to make a title for them selves in front of prospective school recruiters.

I remember how incredulous he was that I wished to interview him and other associates of that crew that provided Majok Deng (a refugee from Kenya who grew up in Sudan) and Evan Nelson — the two of whom afterwards were standouts at Salpointe — and Grant Ward, who ended up staying a 1,000-position career scorer at Buena.

Ruai was only 15 at the time, likely into his freshman period at Cholla.

The very last time I interviewed him was about 4 months prior to he was set to graduate in 2019 at Amphi (he transferred to the faculty as a sophomore). It was after Amphi’s decline to Palo Verde in the MLK Common at McKale Heart. He experienced 17 details and an electrifying breakaway dunk in that recreation whilst sporting purple sneakers on one foot and black on the other.

“I like to be unique and mismatch footwear,” Ruai explained with a giggle.

As substantially of a scorer he was, Ruai prided himself most with his protection.

“I’m an electrical power participant. Athletic,” he stated.

Ben Hurley, who coached Ruai right after the 6-foot-4 guard transferred from Cholla, when mentioned to me in a 2019 interview that “Jackson is a chief on the floor who does a whole lot of tiny points that from time to time do not usually show up in the statbook.”

“He will get his hand on the ball, defending the other team’s very best participant … With Jackson, there’s a lot of talking on the flooring — talking to his teammates. He’s that chief on the floor. He sets the tone at the defensive finish.”

The loved ones is organizing funeral solutions in Tucson and his burial in Sudan.

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