Education: Eric’s Legacy

Following the tragic loss of their son, the Bassett family started a foundation to give other students the opportunity Eric never had

Written by Lorrie Crow Kimble | Photos by Margaret Chapman Photography

CY-FAIR (CFM) – Eric Bassett Jr. was a Cy Falls High School linebacker, a player for the school’s baseball team, and a master guitar player – but if you ask the people who knew him best, they will also tell you that Eric was a friend to everyone he knew. The Cypress community was deeply affected by Eric’s tragic passing in an automobile accident on Dec. 2, 2007 at age 17. Just a few days after the accident, friends approached his parents, Eric Sr. and Ana, about a memorial scholarship in Eric’s name.

Within a few weeks, the Bassetts received various donations, mostly through word of mouth and their church, Christ the Redeemer. “We received contributions from all types of people,” says Eric Sr. “Our intention was to try to create an endowed scholarship of $20,000. We realized we needed to raise some money, so we decided on a golf tournament fundraiser – the Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund Golf Tournament.”

Andrew, Ana, and Erik Bassett Sr., along with Tiffany and Michael Baker, have kept Eric's legacy alive through the Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund

Andrew, Ana, and Erik Bassett Sr., along with Tiffany and Michael Baker, have kept Eric’s legacy alive through the Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund

A Scholarship Tradition
The Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund is awarded annually to an outstanding Cy-Fair or Cy Falls student who plans to attend Texas A&M University. The scholarship winner is picked by the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation (CFEF) Board of Trustees.

Before his death, Eric had been accepted to Texas A&M. His sister, Tiffany, graduated from A&M in 2007, and his brother Andrew is currently an Aggie majoring in industrial distribution.“The first scholarship went to Blake Billings, Eric’s teammate on the football and baseball teams,” says Eric Sr. “Blake graduated last May and gave an impressive speech at the 2012 golf tournament. He said, ‘A&M is known for traditions, and I want to start a new one. I’m going to give my graduation tassel to Eric’s mom, and I challenge others to do the same.’” Wes Ryan, the second scholarship recipient, graduated in May.

Can We Do It Again?
“After the first year, we wondered, how do we make this happen next year?” notes Eric Sr. “If you want to raise money, you have to ask: Who cares about this fundraiser? Who is going to benefit? To us, that meant the kids in the local community, the kids who live in Cypress.”

With the combination of fundraisers, earnings through the CFEF, and generous donations, the Eric Bassett Memorial Scholarship Fund is moving steadily toward the long-term goal of being a fully endowed scholarship.

Each year, the Bassetts ask, “Can we do it again?” The fund has exceeded all of their expectations. “We never dreamed it would have taken on as much as it has,” says Eric Sr. “If we reach our goal and to the extent that our fund grows, we may be able to extend the scholarship or maybe award additional smaller ones.”

In Memory of Bassett
Eric Sr. says he found out there was much he didn’t even know about Eric until after his passing. “His friends weren’t just from a particular group of people – he had friends from such a wide spectrum,” he says. “You just don’t always think about how extraordinary your kid is.”

Even Eric’s principal still recalls his charms. “He had a gentle spirit coupled with a humorous side that made you love him even when he was being silly,” says Cy Falls High School principal Becky Denton.

Denton notes that shortly after Eric died, the students asked if they could rename their student spirit group – in Memory of Bassett (MOB). “MOB has become one of our largest student groups,” she says. “Our MOB T-shirts have the #30 on them – Eric’s now retired football number. The MOB attends all athletic events, cheering on our teams, encouraging and celebrating – which is what Eric did.”

For his senior portrait, Andrew posed in the same setting as Eric had for his, and the two photos were merged together in remembrance of his beloved brother

For his senior portrait, Andrew posed in the same setting as Eric had for his, and the two photos were merged together in remembrance of his beloved brother

A Special Relationship
Cy Falls’ head football coach Kirk Eaton agrees. “I had a special relationship with Eric because I was the defensive coordinator and his position coach. We worked together day in and day out from his freshman to senior year,” explains Eaton of his close bond with Eric.

“I’ve been coaching for 19 years, and I have never seen a kid affect a broader spectrum of people than Eric,” says Eaton. “When we had his memorial, that place was full, standingroom only, and it wasn’t just the football team – everyone loved this kid.”

A Defining Moment
Both Eaton and Denton recall a remarkable story that defines Eric’s character. “At the start of Eric’s senior year, we had a player who was more talented than Eric both physically and athletically,” says Eaton. “As a defensive coordinator, I knew I had to put out the best player. Eric said, ‘If this is the best thing for the team, I’ll go for it. But help make me better so I can get out there again.’”

Eaton says Eric worked with the player – coaching the boy who took his position. “Most kids would have been bitter that someone took their spot,” Denton remarks. In the end, though, Eric worked so hard he took his job back. “Eric turned adversity into a blessing,” says Eaton. “He was awarded second Team All-District linebacker and was named to the Academic All-State football team.”

His Spirit Lives On
Denton says Eric was smart, athletic, and kind. “He had a way of making you feel like you were his favorite,” she says. “Eric’s life represented everything we teach at Cypress Falls – that is why his spirit lives on here.”

Eaton says that Eric gave him the wherewithal to deal with the storms, including death. “Eric lets me know we are going to be okay,” he says. “In all my years of coaching, there is only a handful. And of that handful, there is Eric. I think I treat all people better now because of him.”

At the age of 17, Cy Falls student Eric Bassett Jr. was tragically killed in an automobile accident

At the age of 17, Cy Falls student Eric Bassett Jr. was tragically killed in an automobile accident

LORRIE CROW KIMBLE’s son Zach was a friend of Eric’s. Zach describes Eric as always friendly, always with a smile, and always willing to lend a helping hand.