Brandon Givens, younger brother of the late basketball star Andre Davidson Jr. , shared his memories with the Highbridge Horizon Monday afternoon.
Andre "Pop" Davidson Jr. , 18, collapsed while playing a basketball tournament game Saturday afternoon at St. Mary's Rec Center, in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Lincoln Hospital.
The cause of death remains unclear. The passing of Davidson -- a renowned playground basketball player in Highbridge who averaged 8 points and 8 rebounds per game as a starter for John F. Kennedy High School this past season -- has brought grief to his neighborhood, friends, and family.
"Me and him was the best of friends," Givens said, as he sat on the steps outside the home where he and Davidson lived with their great-grandmother, Rhoda Lewis. "We loved each other.
We were close together -closer than anybody."
Givens said his brother earned the nickname "Pop" early in life. "They gave him that name when he was little," Givens explained. "He was so skinny, they used to call him 'popsicle.' "
Givens said that Davidson liked to instruct his younger sibling both off the court and on it, often coaching Givens on shooting and other elements of basketball. He described Davidson as a fearless competitor who admired NBA stars Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady because of their "explosive" quickness on offense and their jump-shooting abilities. In addition to Nelson Park in Highbridge, Givens said, "Pop" took on all challengers in Orchard Beach, Washington Heights, and courts throughout the city. And he wasn't afraid to have some fun doing it.
"He loved to talk trash," Givens said. "He'd be like, 'Guard up, little boy.'"
In addition to the time they spent together at the basketball court, Givens said he and Davidson liked to hang out together at friends' houses and in midtown Manhattan. He added Davidson frequently told him that if he moved away from Highbridge, he wanted Givens to accompany him.
Givens, who just completed junior high-school at IS 229 in Morris Heights, will attend Kennedy High School next fall. Like his brother, he plans to excel on the school's basketball squad. And, also like his brother, he plans to wear #23.
"When I play varsity, they're gonna give me his jersey," Givens said. "And every time I play, I'll think about him."