Former Men's Basketball: Ex-Cajun Washington left legacy of hard work + His AN profile
Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, July 21, 2018
He entered their lives in a surprising manner and now has left his former UL Ragin’ Cajuns men’s basketball teammates and fans in a shocking fashion.
Franklin native Immanuel Washington had an unlikely two-year career with a pair of 20-win UL basketball teams under coach Jessie Evans from 2001-03.
But after he left a distinct impression on his Cajun teammates and fans alike with his extraordinary hustle, all who knew him were shaken by the news that Washington died Thursday one day after suffering a heart attack.
Funeral arrangements were undetermined as of Thursday afternoon.
Washington’s death came a year after another member of that squad — Kenneth Lawrence — died in Arkansas.
“That’s crazy within a year, we’ve lost two teammates from the same team,” said former teammates Anthony Johnson, who is now living in Las Vegas. “It’s shocking.”
According to a Youngsville Police Department Facebook post, Washington collapsed Wednesday during a physical training portion of the LDWF's academy. He never regained consciousness, and died Thursday.
The 38-year-old Washington had worked for the Youngsville Police Department for two years before beginning to pursue his dream as a Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agent earlier this month.
“So sorry to learn of his news,” Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter said in a Facebook post. “Immanuel proudly served our community and was always upbeat and professional whenever I encountered him at City Hall.”
Prior to UL’s 2001-02 season, former UL star sharpshooter Brad Boyd remembers this newcomer during summer pick-up games.
“He just showed up in the summer one day in our summer workouts and everybody was like, ‘Who is this guy?’” Boyd said. “We’d kind of play pick-up with him. He could run. He was athletic.”
As it turned out, Washington was much more than that.
After attending Jones Junior College, the former Centerville High player walked on at UL.
Before his teammates knew it, Washington had caught the eye of the coaching staff.
“Then he’d start showing up at practice and when the season started, Coach Evans started him,” Boyd said. “It was amazing.”
As unlikely was Washington’s path to the starting lineup was, Johnson said it was no fluke.
“He walked on the team, but he found the way into the starting five because he outworked everyone,” Johnson said.
“He was a workhorse. He never took a day off. He always worked hard and made everybody else work hard. He was a great person. He was like a brother to everyone.”
Johnson also noticed early signs of Washington’s future in law enforcement.
On a team loaded with spirited players who weren’t shy in expressing their emotions, Washington often provided the calm alternative.
“If somebody got out of line, he was the one that fixed everything,” Johnson said.
“He was always humble,” Boyd laughed. “He didn’t act like us.”
Boyd remembers a UL fraternity calling Washington “E-man the D-Man.”
Former Cajun Reggie DeGray just called him "Hustle Man."
“They were kind of ragging him (at first),” Boyd said. “It was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ He’s always going 100 miles an hour, he’s catching lobs, he’d never shoot and he would just pass it to everybody and screening for everybody.
“And then he started games for us all the way through the season.”
As a junior, Washington started 16 of 24 games, before making 11 more starts as a senior. He never averaged more than 2.6 points a game, but his hustle and defensive prowess proved valuable.
In his first start, Washington limited New Mexico State scorer Eric Channing to three points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field.
“He guarded the other team’s best player every game,” Boyd said. “He was a great teammate.
“He was a great person. He was always smiling. It was always ‘Yes, sir; no, sir.’ He had two young kids. It’s just so sad.”
Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas.