Many Coahoma County residents may think of Casey Larry as a former basketball player for Clarksdale High School.
Larry, a shooting guard, was in his sophomore season when his mother, Sherlie Larry, suddenly died from cancer on March 7, 2012. He went through adversity on and off the court, but continued to persevere until he received a degree in agribusiness management from Alcorn State University May 2.
“It started in 2012 when I was in school one day,” said Larry reflecting back on learning about his mother’s passing. “The whole school was coming up to me telling me, ‘I’m sorry. I hope you feel better. I’m praying for you.’ My basketball coach, Coach Farrington Hill, was telling everybody give him some time to get away.
“At that time, I didn’t know what was going on. When I get home to my grandmother’s house, I’m sitting at the dinner table and my brothers and my father come talk to me. First of all, my two uncles came over.”
Larry’s father, Alfred Kemp, told him his mother died of cancer.
“At that moment, I was just in shock like I can’t believe it,” Larry said.
Larry recalled wanting to call his mom, but instead, he called his older brother, Colby Fisher.
“I called my big brother, who was staying in Greenwood at the time,” Larry said.
“He was just like, ‘Mom’s gone.’”
Larry said he had a strong family to make sure he was on the right path. Family members include his auntie, Irene Fisher, and younger brother, Alfred Kemp II.
Larry said he called Hill after hearing the news about his mother.
“I told him open the gym,” Larry said. “I just want to shoot around. I want to continue to play ball.
“Basketball was the only thing that helped me.”
Larry said his mother never missed one of his games.
“I felt like if I stopped playing ball, I would have let my mom down,” he said.
Larry fell just short of the score he needed on the state test to graduate with his class at Clarksdale High School in 2014. He did graduate from Maranatha Christian Academy in Minter City in 2014 and members of his CHS graduating class came to watch him.
Then, Larry began summer school at Hinds Community College.
“Ever since then, I’ve just been looking forward, never looking back,” said Larry, adding his mom was the only thing that pushed him.
Larry earned his associates degree from Hinds in December 2016 before moving on to Alcorn State.
“She (mother) made sure I was enrolled at Hinds Community College. My father and auntie, they’ve been with me this whole time.”
Larry is not finished with his education and plans to start school at Mississippi State in the fall 2020. He said he will likely graduate in 2022 or 2023.
“Right now, I’m working toward my master’s degree in agricultural business and agricultural economics,” he said.
Larry has some idea of what his career path will be.
“I want to be a supervisor at a company,” Larry said. “I’m not sure what company.”
Larry said he still visits Clarksdale High School and tells his story.
“I show them the fun side and the education side,” he said. “When I do well in school, I show them. When I do bad, I show them.”
Larry said he spent much of his youth partying.
“When I left Clarksdale in 2014, people didn’t think I’d be where I am now,” he said.
Larry wants younger kids to learn from both his successes and failures.
“I don’t want them to rely on what I did to graduate,” he said. “I want them to finish with their class.”