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‘He Was My Idol’: Family Carrying On Wichita North High Basketball Star’s Legacy

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) – If you went to Wichita North High in the late 80’s, you might know Michael Kates.

“He had his own personality, a big personality, sort of someone that everyone loved and gravitated towards,” Monte Kates said.

Kates appeared on KAKE in the 1980s when he was KAKE’s student-athlete of the week. “Michael Kates is just a sophomore at North High,” a KAKE reporter said at the time. “He may be young, but he’s not in awe of his surroundings.”

Kates also starred for the North High basketball team as an underclassman. He was as talented on the pitch as he was in the classroom and was admired by many. He had big plans for the future.

But he never got to see them come to life. On March 11, 1990, he was playing pickup trucks when he suddenly fell and died of an enlarged heart.

“I still remember it quite clearly,” Monte Kates said. “[He] he came to pick me up and asked me if i wanted to go out with them for that day. I was shooting on goal while they were playing. So I wasn’t even old enough to play and so I just noticed the game stopped and I looked around and everyone huddled around and I ran to see what was going on. I just saw my cousin lying in the field.”

Monte Kates was Michael’s younger cousin, he still remembers the day well, and he remembers even more the young man and mentor he was

“We were very close,” Monte said. “He was my idol”.

The day Michael was buried, Monte made a choice, his first child would be named Michael Kates.

“I was shocked,” Monte said. “I was in the bedroom and my uncle came and he talked to me and he tried to lift me up and pick me up and I think I made that decision so early, right, right after the funeral.”

Flash forward to today and not only has Monte kept his promise, but his son is thriving.

Michael Kates is a young man in Maize South and is one of the best guards in the state

“He told me stories, some of the stories they had,” Michael said. “I think it’s like, you know, cool, like I’m sharing his name. And like, you know, I’m just trying to carry it on.”

Both Michaels can dance. Both are teammates you dream of having and as smart as they come and both have that sweater

“Their shooters and that’s the main thing I see,” Monte said. “They love the three-ball and that’s their favorite shot. So I think it’s pretty cool that he’s carrying on that tradition.

It’s more than just a shooting tradition, it’s a continued dream. And Monte is proud that his son is a reflection of his cousin.

“Family was important to him,” Monte said. “And that’s important to me, so you know, and I really admired him and this is my idol and I just want to pass that legacy on to him and I want him to know who Michael was the greatest.

Michael of the North never got to see his dreams come true.

“I can’t wait to play in the NBA one day or whatever I do,” said the late Michael Kates. “You just know that you are going to be successful in whatever I do.”

At Maize South, Michael from the Mav is trailing the course.

“I think it’s pretty cool, living that legacy and sharing his name and stuff, and now I’m doing my best to live up to him, you know, because he’s been telling me stories the whole time he’s been recruited from, you know, schools like KU and stuff like that, so this trying to get to where it was,” Michael said.

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