'He was my idol': Family carrying on the legacy of Wichita North High basketball star
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - If you went to Wichita North High in the late 1980's you might know Michael Kates.
"He had his own personality, big personality, kind of someone that everyone loved and gravitated to," Monte Kates said.
Kates was featured on KAKE in the 80s when he was KAKE's Student-Athlete of the Week. "Michael Kates is just a sophomore at North High," a KAKE reporter at the time said. "He may be young, but he's not in awe of his surroundings."
Kates also starred for North High's basketball team as an underclassman. He was as talented on the court as he was in the classroom and was admired by many. He had big plans for the future.
But he never got to see them come to life. On March 11, 1990, he was playing pickup when he suddenly dropped and died of an enlarged heart.
"I still kind of remember it pretty clear," said Monte Kates. "[He] came to pick me up and asked me if I wanted to go hang out with them for that day. I was shooting on the goal while they were playing. So I wasn't even old enough to play and so then I just noticed the game stopped and I looked around and everyone has huddled around and I ran over to see what was going on. I just saw my cousin laying on the court."
Monte Kates was Michael's younger cousin, he still remembers the day well, and he remembers the young man and mentor he was even more
"We were real close," Monte said. "He was my idol."
The day Michael was laid to rest Monte made a choice, his first son would be named Michael Kates.
"I was I was upset," Monte said. "I was in the bedroom and my uncle came and talked to me and try to lift me up and pick me up and I think I made that decision that early on, right, like directly right after the funeral."
Flash forward to today and not only did Monte keep his promise, but his son is thriving.
Michael Kates is a junior at Maize South and is one of the best guards in the state
"He's told me stories, some of the stories they had," Michael said. "I think it's like, you know, cool, like you're sharing his name. and like, you know, just trying to carry it on."
Both Michaels can ball. Both are teammates you dream to have and smart as they come and they both have that jumper
"Their shooters and that's the main thing that I see," said Monte. "They love the three-ball and that's kind of their favorite shot. So I think that's pretty cool that he's carrying that tradition along.
It's more than just a shooting tradition, It's a dream continued. And monte is proud his son is a reflection of his cousin.
"Family was important to him," said Monte. "And it's important to me so you know, and I just really looked up to him and that's my idol and I just want to pass that legacy to him and I want him to know who older Michael was.
Michael from North never got to see his dreams come true.
"I look forward to maybe playing in the NBA one day or whatever I do," said the late Michael Kates. "I just you know plan on being successful at whatever it is I do."
At Maize South, the Mav's Michael is following the path.
"I think it's pretty cool, living that legacy and sharing his name and stuff, and now just try my best to live up to him you know, because he told me stories all the time he was being recruited by you know, schools like KU and stuff so this trying to get to where he was," said Michael.