benji peterson
First-Year John “Benji” Peterson is remembered fondly by his fellow MU men’s basketball teammates. 
Photo by MU Athletics

MU Men’s Basketball Pays Tribute to Fallen Teammate, 'Benji' Peterson

Jarred Hubbard

Members of Manchester’s basketball team fondly remember John “Benji" Peterson, a former student who was killed by gunshot in Fort Wayne on Mar. 26. He spent his freshman fall semester training with the team.

Team Manager Darvoni Christopher described him as a hard worker on and off the court and great guy with great personality. “Benji was definitely special, and I could tell he was special when I would see him practicing and how passionate and locked-in he would be to getting better each day,” he said.

Benji had many friends, and he did not treat the team like a bunch of strangers bouncing a ball around; he treated them like family. “All the guys gravitated toward him because of how good of a player he was and how good of a person he was as well.” Christopher said. “It’s really mind boggling that this happened to a really good person. Benji was going to be great out on that court and he was going to make a major impact on the team. He was bringing a great presence to every one of us and he will never be forgotten.”

First-year Rickie Wedlow was also close to Benji during his time here. “His impact on the team, looking back, made us all feel grateful for one another and just truly grasp the thought of life,” he said. We need to live with our best attitudes and intentions at all times and to cherish your friends as your family. Benji wasn’t just a teammate to me, he was my brother; he was always there for me and me and him really clicked as if we were made from the same cloth.”

Wedlow also brought up the team’s next steps with having to continue without Benji. “The team and I all want to make Benji proud and do well for him next season,” he said. “I’ve made up in my mind that my sophomore year is dedicated to him already.

“Now we have a reason and a bigger purpose to go hard and give it all we have next season,” he continued.

Assistant coach Seth Clark, who worked diligently with Benji, was in shock to hear the news of his death. “It’s a shame to see young educated Black man like Benji who had a purpose in life get his life cut short for being in a tough situation like that,” Clark said.

He noted that the team has been communicating to make sure all the players’ needs to communicate or let out any frustration or anguish are being met. “We have been actively speaking in the group chat and we have been making sure that everyone is okay,” Clark said. “We let the guys know that our doors are always open and that they need to be there for each other even more through these times.”

Clark also noted that Benji was extremely passionate about the game of basketball and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

He stated that the team has been thinking about giving Benji a tribute next season but so far nothing has been set in stone. “We’re still trying to regain our emotions as a team and to heal as a family, because this definitely hit us hard, but we are working on something,” he said.