Ben Gordon Honored
Life-sized mural dedicated at alma mater in honor of BG.
by Jay Mumford
“He’d just stare at me, he never said a word,” said Brent Ridenhour, physical education teacher at Longfellow Elementary in Mount Vernon, NY.
“Ben Gordon was always about business, from kindergarten onward”, he continued. “He was a great listener and wanted to get better. He could always go to both his right and left with the ball, and he obviously was the star of our intramural games (laughs). I brought him to (Mount Vernon Varity Head Coach) Bob Cimmino’s attention when he was still a student here.”
Fast forward two decades later.
Ben Gordon is in NBA training camp with Rip Hamilton, plotting to make the Motor City a contender again. Meanwhile, the Auburn Hills/United Center of his Baby BG years game him a piece of it’s corridors. Longfellow—which is also the alma matter of some of the Mount Vernon’s basketball elite, including recent standout Sherrod Wright (George Mason University) and Coach Cimmino himself—is one of 11 elementary schools in the densely populated four square mile town and remains one of it’s premier young talent pools. But Gordon is the first to receive the towering main wall of the school all to himself, and according to Longfellow’s Assistant Principal (and MVHS’ Varsity Assistant Coach) Brian Pritchett, the nod of respect goes beyond the hardwood.
“Ben was also a great student and one of the best leaders we’ve ever had in Mount Vernon. Not to mention, he’s given so much back to this community.” Gordon’s New Life Foundation sponsors the annual weekend festivities in August at Hartley Park (in the center of town) that have been known to bring out the entire city, as well as onlookers from all around. The foundation has also spun into action the refurbishing of one Mount Vernon playground every year (with a park on Eighth Avenue recently being renamed in his honor). For a guy whose NBA legacy is largely bolstered by destroying New York—at least at Madison Square Garden—Gordon has always rectified the damage by giving back. Therefore, it’s fitting that the school that had a hand in raising him reciprocated the love.
On hand for the unveiling of the life sized mural—besides the Longfellow ES student body and staff—were Mount Vernon mayor Clinton I. Young and naturally, Gordon’s mother Yvonne (pictured with the mural). Financed by the PD Foundation—Pritchett and fellow Mount Vernon B-Ball Alum, Dana Dogett—and towering down on onlookers outside of the Principal’s office, the BG mural is always watching. It should be noted, however, the irony of placing the mural in a part of the school where Gordon never spent any time.
“Ben never got in any trouble, and he always handed in his homework on time”, Barbara Foley (Gordon’s fourth grade teacher) said with a laugh. “He was an honor student!”