It is in fact like what they say in the movies, it’s as though life passes before you in slow motion…everything seems to slow down and you begin to ask yourself what’s real and what’s not.
But now we know the reality of a life lost far too soon is very real. Armon Louis Gilliam left the court July 5, doing one of the things he loved most, playing basketball.
I say one of the things he loved most because unbeknownst to many of us he loved doing many things and was quite accomplished in other areas.
|REST IN PEACE—Family and friends of Armon Gilliam leave gravesite after interment, July 13. (Courier Photo/Rossano P. Stewart)
First and foremost he was a devoted Christian man who traveled the world sharing the joys of his deep rooted faith that was breed into him from his parents and most especially his father, Pastor James Timothy Gilliam. But it was made clear by his “Big Brother” Garland that mom brought the original hammer down with both her competitive spirit and her strong family discipline and values.
Now in that same sense of everything moving in slow motion come with me if you will as I share those memories of those family and friends who all felt that this just could not be possible, that our brother, our son, father, uncle, husband, leader, friend…partner, teammate was truly gone:
The great Mel Blount (The greatest cornerback in NFL History) who in fact is the ultimate man’s man marveled at Armon’s size and stature as well as his humility and intelligence and recognized him as the gentlemen’s…gentleman.
Former Super Bowl Champion and now Judge—Judge Dwayne Woodruff noted how “Armon loved talking to people and how he made everyone around him feel motivated and inspired.”
Local slam dunk legend and former NBA star Myron Brown said that “There was two sides to Armon on the court all business…off the court have fun and enjoy life to the fullest.”
Coach Bruce Schifino said he was “Bigger than life.”
Former NBA player Clarence Hopson quoted a friend of his who said he worked with Armon for a year and never knew he played pro ball!!
Joy Woodruff remembered when she last saw Armon and was asked if she wanted a picture with him and graciously passed and thinking “I’ll see Armon again I’ll get a photo later.”
B.B. Flenory, local basketball legend and WPIAL Hall of Famer, said “I rank him one of the five greatest to come out of WPIAL.”
Bill Alexson, man of God and Boston Celtics representative said “Armon influenced people and shared his relationship with Jesus Christ to people around the world.”
Pastor Carl Denson remarked, “he was a quiet man with powerful words.”
Anthony Bonner, former New York Knick and Brother-in-Christ with Armon said, “he always made us smile and always had others best interest at heart…a very talented, hard working and generous man.”
Dwight “The Iceman” Clay said, “I saw him early on as a developing player who was much more concerned about rebounding and setting screens than he was about scoring.”
Former high school coach Mike Rossman said I took him to the Sharon/Hoyle Tournament in 1981 and saw him dominate as a young guy and win MVP at this great… great…great tournament and he was just getting started in the game.
Kevin Murphy talked about “playing with Armon and Joe Barlow on the Wild Cats Team in the Legendary Connie Hawkins Summer Basketball League and thinking it just doesn’t get any better than this!”
Tionda Blount said “he was a great father.”
Tyrone “Moon” Howard, former Harlem Globetrotter and local Pittsburgh legend said, “he told me what to expect and how to get ready to play in the NBA. He was a great friend.”
Dave Roberts, 23 year military veteran said people didn’t realize how smart he was, a great player and he loved and played jazz.
In closing on the final chapter of a truly great life lived to its fullest and on behalf of my friends…Armon’s friends…our inner circle, John Moore, Coach Karen Hall, Kirk Bruce, Myron Brown, Dwayne Woodruff, Bruce Schifino, Dennis Briggs, Margo Hinton, B.B. Flenory and Jennifer Bruce. “Hammer” we truly enjoyed the time you shared with us, we shared with you, we will miss you, we will honor you and we look forward to playing ball with you again.