Father, Comet forward leads playoff dream

Wickett earns MVP, All-State accolades, supports teammates, daughter

Comet forward Larry Wickett celebrates with a smile after a dunk during the round 2 Mens Basketball Regional Championship victory against Cosummes River College on Friday in the Gymnasium.

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

Sometimes a woman comes into a man’s life and turns his world upside down.

The things he thought were important become meaningless and his focus shifts from  instant gratification to obligation and accountability.

It was two years ago when Comet forward and 2015-16 Bay Valley Conference MVP Larry Wickett first met the girl who would change the direction of his life forever — his 2-year-old daughter La’Riyah Wickett.

“When La’Riyah runs to hug me when she sees me it is the best feeling in the world,” Wickett said. “The first time she gave me a hug and a kiss on her own was the best day of my life.”

Born Dec. 12 1994 in Oakland, Wickett moved to Las Vegas with his parents while in the third grade when his grandmother became ill.

Always the tallest player on the field, Wickett played football exclusively and didn’t tap into his rich family history of basketball until his return to California two days before beginning school at Vallejo High where he graduated in 2012.

The youngest of four siblings, Wickett’s father and three older sisters all saw success on the hardwood.

Larry Wickett Sr. played at San Francisco State University. His sister La’Ray played at Cal State- Hayward and another sister La’Rita played at CCC. Wickett also has a sister La’Teena who played at Pepperdine University, where she was named to the 2005 Street & Smith All American team and was one of the top 25 players in the nation out of Castlemont High School in Oakland.

Wickett got his basketball aptitude from watching his sisters excel on the court.

“La’Ray played post and La’Teena did a little bit of everything, I’m just more athletic.” Wickett said. “Teena also wore number 4, so I wear it to keep the legacy alive.” 

Recognized as one of the top local prospects coming out of high school, Wickett chose to play at CCC and continued to make his mark by earning first team all league honors in 2012-13.

Following the promising season, the freshman’s life would be changed forever.

The birth of his daughter offered a new set of circumstances and sacrifices. The shift in responsibilities momentarily derailed Wickett’s basketball dreams as the now father prioritized parenting over play-making, choosing to sit out the following season to care for his newborn child.

“When she was born, all I could think of was what’s my next move. I didn’t want to be the kind of father my dad was.” Wickett said. “Not that my parents are that bad, it’s just because of things going on in their own lives, our relationships weren’t the way I wanted them to be.”

Wickett’s parents still live in Las Vegas so Wickett now calls his sister La’Teena’s home his own. It was there that he mastered the art of changing diapers and most importantly that free time was a long gone thing of the past.

“I think I’ve told him all that he knows, everything that I can. He’s a man now.” La’Teena Wickett said.

Being there from the beginning, she sees the effect that responsibility has had on the now sophomore on and off of the court.

“There was no focus, no respect for the game before La’Riyah,” La’Teena said. “Now he has direction and a vision of where he wants to be because he has a family to provide for. He used to play the game just as a game. Now he’s focused on what he has to do.”

In his time away from basketball Wicket found time to reflect on the ways that he lived life before La’Riyah and began to plot his path toward a return to basketball.

The forward continued to develop his game between working the graveyard shift at Walmart and learning to be a father without actually taking from the relationship he had with his own dad.

“I felt like all I had to do was be seen by people that know basketball,” Wickett said. “I knew everything that I’d been doing and the sacrifices that I made was going to pay off.”

Wickett returned to the Comets in 2015-16 with renewed intensity averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per game, also ranking first in rebounds, fourth in assists and third in steals in the BVC.

“He’s (Larry) always fed off of the crowd ever since he was younger. He wants to posterize people with his dunks,” La’Teena Wickett said. “When everyone reacts, that energy makes him want to do more.”

His efforts were widely recognized earning Wickett First Team All-State honors and BVC MVP.

“Larry brings a level of energy that’s infectious. When he makes plays it ignites the team. He usually guards the other team’s best player and can do it at multiple positions,” coach Miguel Johnson said.

“I don’t know how he does it. It takes a tremendous amount of desire and discipline to succeed in life. He works, goes to school, excels on the basketball court and has a daughter. He’s grown up a lot in the time that I’ve coached him. I have a great deal of respect for that young man.”