Basketball Legend Passes Away

Photo of former star player, at York College, John Scarcini.
Photo of former star player, at York College, Chris Ratliff. Photo by York College Website

BY BRIENNE KENLOCK

The York community has suffered a tragic loss recently with the passing of former alumni, Chris Ratliff. Ratliff was 47-years-old when he suffered an unexpected heart attack on October 23rd. His passing has shocked many people in the community who knew him personally.

Standing a staggering 6′ 7” tall and weighing 320 lbs, he was affectionately known as “Big Chris” due to his giant-esque frame. Ratliff played for the Cardinals for three seasons from 1992 to 1995. He led the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament in 1995, following a 19-7 season in which he averaged 9.6 points and 7.9 rebounds. Chris had an affixation for basketball which started when he was 6.

While Ratliff played for York they stayed in contention. He made sure that they consistently competed regardless of the situation.A force in the paint, Ratliff averaged over 13.2 points and 8.5 rebounds over 64 games. After graduating, he played semi-pro overseas for multiple teams including .

Antoine Morris, the Head of Men’s Basketball in York, remembered him as a man who protected and looked after his teammates whenever they needed a hand. Morris and Ratliff were on the Men’s Basketball team in the nineties and kept in touch even after graduation. Chris was not only known for his size, but how much he cared about people. “Chris was a big guy, and he could dunk. He was a lovable man”, said Morris. Antoine recalled one incident where Chris became known for his protector persona.

“There was one time a guy tried to…intimidate me after a game and he mashed me in my face with his hand. We both got into it and everybody crowded around us on the court. Then Chris came,  got in front of me, shielding me saying ‘Nobody’s touching him’ and everybody walked away. They didn’t want to mess with Chris. A year later, I met the same guy again and I thought he was going to…beat me up. And he asked me ‘Do you know Big Chris’ and I said yes. He shook my hand, gave me a ‘pound’ and told me to tell Chris he said ‘hi’.”

Although he liked basketball, he found his calling as a bodyguard. “It was just coincidental. Almost like he was made for it”, said Morris. Ratliff became a bodyguard for celebrities such as Mary J. Blige, Usher, and DJ Clue and became familiar with other stars on the job.

There were many instances where Chris made people admire his character. Ronald St. John, the Athletic Director for York, used to coach Chris Ratliff and Antoine Morris in the nineties. Chris’s accomplishments were unique for someone like him.

“Chris always checked up on me. Even after he graduated, he would call to check up on me, how I was doing. One thing about my former players is that they always came back to check up on me and thank me for being there for them. Chris was one of those people”, said St. John.

Chris’s funeral was held on Saturday, November 7th at the Gethsemane Garden Baptist Church in 223 East 7th Street. A web news page dedicated to his memory is on the York College Athletics website.

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