Summer stands tall

Summer stands tall

A rising basketball star's late mother backed his passion for the sport, which helped him be mature and independent

Basketball player Summer Wong Hin-hang has just lost his most loyal supporter - his mother, Zoe.

During the past seven years she watched him play whenever she was free from her job as a clerk.

However, this month she died from cancer, aged 45 - only four months after being diagnosed with the disease. She had gone to the doctor in November because of persistent back pain.

"Mum died so quickly; it was a great shock," says Summer, 16, who studies at Diocesan Boys' School.

"She'd been healthy, and went for the check-up only because of back pain. A scan showed it was too late to save her - her cancer had spread all over her body.

"Of course, I feel sad, but I'm not depressed; I treasured every moment I had with Mum and Dad."

Both his parents have encouraged him in the sport.

"I started playing basketball when I was in Grade Four," says Summer, who plays point guard - the player that controls his team's attacking tactics.

"My dad, Wong Tin-pui, was a driver, but gave up work to care for Mum when she fell ill. But before, both of them would always come to watch me play when free."

Neither of them knew anything about basketball, but they were keen to encourage him, and took many photographs and videos of him playing.

Wong even set up a youth team, Eternal East, for Summer and other players his age.

"My parents provided so much opportunity for me to develop as a player, but they never forced me to reach a certain level," Summer says.

"Mum would simply say, 'Keep going', or 'That's fine' if she spoke to me about my performances.

"Yet I would always know when she was really impressed by my performance.

"Her brother would tell me she'd been overjoyed, full of praise in front of him ... I guess she just didn't want me to be big-headed or become too proud of myself.

"I know Mum wanted me to play basketball so I would learn to become a responsible person.

"When I was younger I was bad-tempered and always blamed my teammates if things went wrong. She didn't know about things like skills, but would criticise my attitude and on-court behaviour. Now I realise she left me with the ability to cope without her being in my life."

He says he was tearful when taking a penalty shot in the semi-finals at last November's Adidas Streetball Challenge, which his parents would have watched had it not been for his mother's illness.

"I wished that they were there. But with my friends' support, I got through it, and we finished second," Summer says. "It made me realise that I needed to be independent and take care of myself."

His talent for basketball was recognised by a teacher at DBS while he was playing for St Margaret's Co-Educational English Secondary and Primary School in the Division Three C-grade boys' final. Three years ago, he moved to DBS, the reigning inter-school Division One A-grade champions.

This year, he played for Hong Kong's under-16 team for the first time at the Seventh Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Basketball Exchange Programme.

"I went to a training camp before the competition and showed my medal to Mum in hospital; she was happy," he says.

Once Summer had dreams of joining the NBA but now he is more realistic. "I'll definitely try to do my best in the sport. But I told Mum, in her final days, that I wanted to be a geography teacher. She smiled, but didn't speak much; she was too weak.

"She asked me only to promise to do one thing - to take good care of Dad. And, of course, I will."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Summer stands tall


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