Najeeb Echols, a native of Chicago, passed away on Wednesday in Kansas from a heart attack. He was 39.
Jada, Jalen, and Jaime Echols, Najeeb’s daughter and wife, survive him.
Jason Straight, a close friend of Echols and the current basketball coach at Providence-St. Mel said, “I’m simply devastated.” “I had to leave practice and today’s class. He was not merely a basketball player. He was a remarkable man. He was an accomplished pianist and singer.
Young’s 1998 state and city championship squad, regarded as one of the best in state history, had Najeeb Echols as a significant player.
In 1998, Najeeb Echols was only a freshman, but over the following two years, he rose to become one of the state’s top scorers and a top-10 prospect nationwide. After switching from Young to Morgan Park, he was declared ineligible and was forced to sit out his senior year.
Cyrus McGinnis, an assistant coach at Young in 1998 and currently employed by Proviso West, remarked, “This is a shock.” He was a devoted individual. He and I were pretty close.
Several players, including Straight, Echols, Eddy Curry, and others, were the focus of “Preps: Chicago Hoops,” a well-liked television program that aired on Fox Sports in 2001. The bonds between the three high school stars have remained strong over the past 20 years.
Straight says, “Eddy and I used to tease Jeeb constantly and ask him if he was going to be a baller or a singer. We recently discussed getting together to conduct a “where-are-they-now?” style retrospective on the show’s characters.
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Najeeb Echols participated in collegiate basketball at Illinois State and Missouri. He most recently worked for Farmers Insurance, and in 2012 he founded the non-profit Whatever It Takes Premiere Youth Club, a basketball and track-focused youth sports organization.
Hearing one of my brother’s left the world last night has me sick. I love you forever brother!! @NajeebEchols I will never forget you were the #1 8th grader in America in our class. Talented and always kind to everyone. Rest in power King!🙏🏿🙏🏿😪😞🙏🏿🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/CZKRd7T3f8
— 🌎 (@Brandon_B_5) December 14, 2022
Jada, the daughter, is a promising runner.
Straight exclaimed, “She is excellent. She has experienced some incredible things. She was going to be a collegiate athlete, and [Echols] was incredibly excited about that. He was assisting her and numerous other children.
On Wednesday night, Jaime, his wife, wrote on Facebook:
“As I type these words, my heart is breaking. Early this morning, I lost my husband—my teammate, friend, and my life’s love. A wonderful guy has left this earth, but a wonderful angel has entered heaven. My husband is a seasoned pilot. His life was beautiful, and he deserves to be remembered excellently.
“The funeral arrangements through Eli and Sons Funeral Home are pending. Jalen, Jada, and I are grateful for your love, prayers, and well wishes, which we have received. I greatly appreciate it.