Prep Charter's Frazier dies after collapsing on basketball court

Posted: August 27, 2010

WHILE COACH Dan Brinkley, of Prep Charter High, is positive Akhir "Geedy" Frazier would have played basketball at the Division I level, now those thoughts are secondary.

"I'm much more fortunate to have met him than to have coached him," a sobbing Brinkley said yesterday. "This was one great kid. For all the people who knew him, this is hitting us like 9/11."

Frazier, 16, a rising junior combo guard, died late Wednesday night at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 4 days after removing himself from a neighborhood league game at Hank Gathers Rec Center, 25th and Diamond, and collapsing into the arms of that team's coach as he approached the sideline.

Frazier's mother, Karen Beckham, formerly a star player at Murrell Dobbins Tech (class of 1986) and Norfolk State, said the family is awaiting autopsy results. She was told by doctors, she added, that her son suffered from a thickening of the heart. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy was not a term she remembered hearing, however.

HC was the condition that felled Gathers, a product of Dobbins ('85) and that same rec center (then called Moylan), while he starred for Loyola Marymount late in the 1990 season.

As his mom now realizes, Akhir's passion for basketball cost him his life.

He'd collapsed earlier this summer while representing Prep Charter in a team camp at Saint Joseph's University. An ensuing stress test showed no abnormalities, his mom said, but he'd been advised to avoid strenuous activity until undergoing an MRI Aug. 24. The incident at Gathers Rec occurred Aug. 21.

"You know how 16-year-olds are. They do what they want. They can be hardheaded," Beckham said. "Akhir couldn't help himself. If that was his time to go . . . I'm OK with the fact he was doing something he wanted to do. Something he loved to do."

Beckham expressed appreciation for how much support the family received during Akhir's 5-day stay at CHOP.

"It was overwhelming," she said. "We had to turn people away. So many visitors. The doctor said he wished he'd been able to meet us under different circumstances because he could really see how much our family is loved."

Though it's likely Frazier would have attended Norristown High - his father, Edward, lives in that area - this coming school year, he always would have retained a place of prominence for Dan Brinkley.

"For anyone who met Geedy, they know the loss here," Brinkley said. "This was not 'some black kid who died in the streets.' This was a fun-loving kid. Always smiling. Always in a good mood. You knew he was loved, just by how he presented himself. The essence of who he was always shone through.

"Once you got around Geedy . . . If you were having a bad day, you weren't anymore."

Among the other people close with Frazier, and one who could sing his praises forever, was Kamal Yard, coach of the Philly Pride AAU team.

That squad is sponsored by former NBA mainstay Cuttino "Cat" Mobley, Yard's first cousin and a 1992 Cardinal Dougherty grad. Mobley played 11 seasons in the NBA before he was diagnosed with heart trouble (HC, specifically) and had to retire in December 2008.

Yard told the story of how he was moving from one house to another, and how a bunch of his Philly Pride players promised to help him.

"Then the day came and everybody was dippin' and dodgin'," he said, smiling. "Nowhere to be found. Not Geedy. He was one of two kids to follow through; him and Tyrone Garland [former John Bartram all-timer now beginning his stay at Virginia Tech]. Geedy called me at 6 o'clock in the morning. 'When do you need me? What can I do?'

"Geedy played with us since the seventh grade. He was such a personable kid. The first thing you noticed was his smile. He always had it. That smile. It got you."

Frazier's older sister, Tyisha Beckham, said Akhir picked up his nickname when he was little, because he was always grabbing any and all hunks of food. Over time, "Greedy" morphed into "Geedy."

The family has lived for about 10 years at 32nd and Norris, but was first based at 8th and Diamond.

Frazier last season scored 168 points - third best on the team - for the youthful Huskies, who experienced a rare middle-of-the-road season (12-12) with only one senior in the rotation. His final game turned out to be a District 12 Class AA consolation game against Strawberry Mansion, the eventual state runner-up.

Akhir's brother, Eddie, starred for Mansion's 2008 squad, which also placed second in the state in AA. His mother was the starting center for Dobbins' first Public League girls' championship squad in 1986; budding superstar Dawn Staley was a sophomore. Beckham totaled a whopping 55 points and 31 rebounds in the semis and final that year before moving on to Norfolk State.

"I remember when Eddie was little," she said. "One time he asked me, 'Mom, where'd you get all those trophies? You buy 'em?' As the kids got older, they found out. I could play a little."

At Prep Charter, among Akhir's 2009 teammates was then-senior Zaahid Holloman.

"Let it be known: This was a good, humble kid. I feel like I've lost a little brother," Holloman said. "Just because I saw how he was, I took him in, showed him the ropes. He had that smile. That personality.

"He was more mature than a usual freshman. He wanted to be a leader. We'd be having conversations and he'd jump right in. I liked that about him."

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

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