Preston Lord’s basketball coach honors his student’s memory

Jan 6, 2024, 7:15 AM | Updated: Mar 12, 2024, 10:14 am

PHOENIX — There’s one thing missing from the conversation around 16-year-old Preston Lord’s death, according to the head basketball coach at the school he went to.

“So much is focused on the assailants, the ones who are responsible,” Hosea Graham, who coaches basketball at Combs High School, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show Friday. “But no one’s really talking about who Preston really was and what we’ve lost. We’ve lost so much.”

Officials said Lord died after being assaulted by a gang of violent teenagers at a Halloween party in October 2023. The assault may be connected to an affluent gang of violent teenagers known as the “Gilbert Goons.” One East Valley mother said these blitz-style attacks have been terrorizing teens and families in the area for over a year.

As police and the public anticipate the next update in the case, Graham wants people to reflect on what a wonderful person Lord was.

Head basketball coach says Preston Lord is loved and missed

“This young man was a 4.0 student. He was loved and his friendship was cherished by not just only the people on my basketball team, but there were friends throughout the school that really struggled with the loss of him from their lives,” Graham said.

He found out about what happened to Lord when a distraught student called him with the news of the assault. Graham was shocked and traveled to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital to pray for his recovery.

Lord was a leader and a positive influence with his whole life ahead of him, Graham said.

“From my perspective, being around him and coaching him, he was one of those kids where you just knew he was going to become some type of valuable leader in the future and have so much to input into the world and we lost that,” Graham said.

The Combs High School basketball team started a tradition to honor Lord, who wore jersey No. 5. Before each game, Lord’s best friend puts a No. 5 jersey on a chair on the side of the basketball court.

“As kids come into the game and come out of the game, everybody pats that chair, everybody pats that number,” Graham said. “It’s a way of them recognizing that Preston is still with them.”

Where is the Preston Lord case now?

After Lord’s death, both the Queen Creek Police Department and the Gilbert Police Department announced they were investigating the murder.

Queen Creek PD identified seven suspects and wants to press charges, but it will have to wait for approval from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to proceed. That may take a while, as Attorney Rachel Mitchell said her office has thousands of files to sift through.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

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Preston Lord’s basketball coach honors his student’s memory