Myron MedcalfESPN Staff WriterClose
- Covers college basketball
- Joined ESPN.com in 2011
- Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A moment of silence was held before Saturday’s matchup between Syracuse and No. 1 Duke for Jorge Jimenez, the 51-year-old man who was killed on a local highway Wednesday when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Orange coach Jim Boeheim.
“Tonight, as we come together as one Orange community, we recognize all of those impacted by this tragedy and honor the life of Mr. Jimenez,” the public address announcer said prior to the game’s start.
Boeheim was solemn as he emerged from the locker room before the game amid cheers from the thousands in attendance. With a slight wave, he acknowledged the ovation before embracing Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, a friend. Boeheim’s wife, Juli, looked on with tears in her eyes.
As he walked back to his seat on the bench, Jim Boeheim stared at the floor.
Brian Hernandez, one of Jimenez’s four children, told ESPN on Saturday that the family was “devastated” and that they want people to remember their father.
“I want people to know we’re really devastated,” the 19-year-old Hernandez told ESPN in a phone interview. “People don’t deserve to die like this.”
Hernandez said that whenever Jimenez would see someone he knew in his neighborhood, he would shout across the street — “Hey Papi!” he’d say — in his Cuban accent.
Hernandez said he had “mixed feelings” when he initially learned Boeheim had planned to coach Saturday’s game, but he said he was told the coach and school would acknowledge his father, alleviated some of his concerns.
“Him coaching, it will be a happy environment,” Hernandez said. “At first, I was like, ‘How can you be in that kind of environment, knowing we’re hurt?’ But if he’s doing it for a good cause, toward helping us, we’ll be OK with it.”
Boeheim, who has coached at his alma mater for 43 seasons, addressed his players Thursday but did not stay for practice. He returned to the team Friday.
More than anything, Hernandez said, he wants people to know his father mattered to those within his family and beyond. Jimenez moved to the Syracuse area from Cuba nearly 20 years ago.
Hernandez reflected on his father’s life, saying Jimenez loved the Yankees and, whenever he had time after working multiple jobs, going fishing. He said his father interacted with the kids on his street, sometimes dancing and cracking jokes, and that he loved to laugh and was a genius in the kitchen.
Hernandez said whenever his father would make a large meal, he’d take plates to folks in his neighborhood.
“A lot of people knew him,” Hernandez said. “He was a person that was always smiling and in a good mood.”
Hernandez said his father planned on resting Wednesday night, but some friends invited him on a trip to a local casino. The car he was in crashed into a guardrail on a cold night that covered local streets in ice.
Per the other individuals who were in the car, Jimenez was trying to make sure his friends were safe and out of harm’s way when he was struck by Boeheim’s vehicle on the highway, Hernandez said.
And that makes Hernandez feel like his father was a hero who sacrificed himself for others.
On Saturday night, more than 30,000 people filled the Carrier Dome, attempting to establish a new NCAA attendance record. The moment of silence for Jimenez was requested in both English and Spanish.
Hernandez said he and his family will be home, recovering from the most devastating moment of their lives. They have established an online fundraiser to help with funeral services, which will be announced soon, but Hernandez said they’re still processing the events of the last few days.
“My dad was a great, loving guy,” Hernandez said. “He was always joking. It was part of him. If you were to meet him, you’d feel that vibe. I just want his name to be out there. It’s a hard thing.”