RAY Parks may be a winner on the hardcourt. But the past months had been marked by two huge personal losses for the amateur basketball star.
The 20-year-old Ray lost his father, seven-time PBA Best Import Bobby Parks, to cancer Saturday afternoon, just 14 months after his girlfriend, former TV sports reporter Maan Panganiban, died from the same vicious disease.
“Turn a negative into a positive, that’s one thing I learned from him,” a visibly pained Ray said yesterday, adding that he still couldn’t talk much about his father, with whom he is known to be close.
In the last UAAP season, Ray again proved his worth as he captured his second straight Most Valuable Player award while towing the National University to the Final Four for the first time in 11 years.
It was a season, which Ray said, was dedicated to the memory of Panganiban, who died at 25 years old in January last year due to lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
In the Bulldogs’ first game last year, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard came out of the dugout wearing a warmup shirt printed with “I love Maan.”
Now, Ray tries to come to terms again with another tragedy as his father passed away after more than a year of battling larynx and lung cancer. He was 51.
Bobby made his Philippine debut with San Miguel Beer in 1987 and built an unparalleled career for the next 12 seasons with the Shell Turbo Chargers where he emerged as one of the most dominant imports the PBA had seen.
He was inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in 2009 but fell ill the following year, before deciding to return to the Philippines with Ray.
Until the end, basketball kept Bobby busy as he coached the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League, although he had to step down late last year due to health reasons.
He also worked as an assistant athletic director for NU.
Bobby is survived by his wife Jasmine and two other children.
His remains lie in state at Heritage Park in Taguig. Interment details will be announced soon.
Come June, Ray will be back in the UAAP hardcourt hoping to turn again a negative into a positive, just the way Bobby would have wanted.
“Everything that I am today is because of him,” said Ray. “It was a good 20 years with him.”