'Kind of person who lit up a room' - Uniondale coach remembers rising star's leadership, charisma

On the court is where Wright made his mark. He made the varsity team as an eighth grader, but he wasn't content to sit by.

News 12 Staff

Jan 28, 2021, 11:03 PM

Updated 1,268 days ago

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The death of Uniondale basketball star Jomani "Jo-Jo" Wright has hit many in the community hard -- including his coach.
Wright was in a vehicle that hit a telephone pole after crashing into another car on Front Street Wednesday. He later died at a hospital, while three other passengers were injured.
To Uniondale basketball coach Tom Diana, Wright was much more than a basketball player.
"We got the call ... they were all shook because it was so hard to see," says Diana. "Jo-Jo was an incredible young man, charismatic, just the kind of person lit up a room."
On the court is where Wright made his mark. He made the varsity team as an eighth grader, but he wasn't content to sit by.
"He was a natural leader, experience. I said to him, 'I'm bringing you up to gain some experience.' He said to me, 'I'm here to contribute, I'm not here to watch," says Diana. "The thing that always amazed me about that was, he took some seniors' time."
But the team embraced him, with senior players looking to their younger counterpart for leadership.
"To see them look to him at that age, it's just so rare. So as dynamic as a player as he was, by far exceeding that as a person and his natural charisma," says Diana.
Last season, Wright was one of only two freshmen in all of New York to be nab all-state honors.
Beyond his team, the community and other schools knew Wright as well. The Uniondale community has taken to social media to honor his memory.
Wright averaged 19 points a game last season for the Knights and helped lead them to the county championship game.
When asked what he wants everyone to know about Wright, Diana says, "I just think he's the kind of kid that we all want our kids to be. We lost someone special."


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