Kerstie Phills’ warmth shines through in her short video introduction to FGCU fans. “I got into basketball ever since I was 6 years old,” says Phills, her voice and smile bright as she goes on to explain her family legacy, which some might already know. “My dad played in the NBA.”
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“I love to live in his legacy,” Phills says, “and be the best player I can.” Bobby Phills, revered in his former NBA towns of Cleveland and Charlotte for the selfless person he was off the court and the player he willed himself into on the pine, died in a car crash Jan. 12, 2000, in Charlotte after speeding with teammate David Wesley and skidding into oncoming traffic. Phills, a 6-foot-5 guard who Michael Jordan famously called the toughest defender he’d ever faced, was 30. There were no other fatalities.
“I never got to know my dad,” said Kerstie, 20, a redshirt sophomore who transferred to FGCU in the summer of 2017 after a strong freshman season at Wagner University in Staten Island, New York. “I know that he worked very hard in his career in just getting to the NBA. My mom always tells me that I’m a reflection of my father. I play for him, every single game that I play.”