By Christina Santucci
The father of a late western Queens basketball coach will see the corner bearing his son’s name each time he leaves his home on 38th Street.
“It’s a great honor. I have to look at it every day and it’s going to bring tears to my eyes,” said Jerry Ingenito’s father, Richard Ingenito, after the co-naming ceremony Saturday hosted by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
Jerry Ingenito, who died in January at the age of 52, grew up on the street with his four siblings, relatives said. He coached basketball at Saint Raphael’s Catholic Youth Organization in Sunnyside, Christ the King High School and Queens College during a career of more than 30 years on the courts.
Along the way, the Sunnyside native left an impression on all those around him, his family said.
“He touched a lot of people. All of the kids loved him,” Richard Ingenito said. “He straightened out a lot of kids’ lives who were going bad.”
Friends recalled Jerry Ingenito’s generosity with the young players, helping to train them early in the morning, but it was also his zest for life despite his illness that they will remember.
“He filled his bucket list three times,” said friend Terry Tarpey, whose son — William and Mary player Terry Tarpey Jr. — was trained by Jerry Ingenito. “He enjoyed life to the fullest.”
Jerry Ingenito sat at the finish line of the Kentucky Derby with longtime friend Mike Repole, weathered winters in Maui and watched the St. John’s University Red Storm courtside.
All the while, the coach — who helped former NBA players Lamar Odom, Speedy Claxton, Derrick Phelps and Khalid Reeves — was being treated for complications related to diabetes. Loved ones said he underwent in total over the years 52 operations, including a kidney transplant from one of his two sisters.
“He never let anybody know how sick he was,” Tarpey said. “He still wanted to be a coach.”
On Saturday, about 100 relatives and friends joined Van Bramer for the unveiling of the street sign in Ingenito’s memory at the corner Greenpoint Avenue.
“It’s so important to honor people who didn’t just live here but made it a better place,” the lawmaker said.
Jerry Ingenito’s legacy was also remembered through several hoops programs throughout the city recently. A summer basketball league at the Sunnyside/Woodside Boys & Girls Club was named after him and the Bruns Summer basketball camp in Garden City, L.I., offers two scholarships for Sunnyside youngsters in Jerry Ingenito’s name, according to the councilman’s office.
Jerry Ingenito served as the founder and director of the Cathedral High School summer camp, which also offers a scholarship in his memory.
“It’s a tremendous honor for our family, for my brother,” said Jerry Ingenito’s brother Jimmy.
Reach Managing Editor Christina Santucci by phone at 718-260-4589 or by email at [email protected].