by RENALDO DORSETT
Final respects were paid to one of the Bahamas’ greatest sporting legends over the weekend as scores turned out to honor the memory of “The Bird.”
Tom Wilfredo Grant, 71, was laid to rest Saturday morning at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Boyd Road.
Family remembered the sporting icon for his personal contributions as a family patriarch.
His wife Hannah reminisced of their early years and his job as a father.
“We met during my participation in volleyball, basketball and track and field, and fell in love. You were truly a father in every way. You loved them. I often thank you for your care, nuture and suspension which helped me to further my career, knowing full well the children would be taken care of,” she said, “History will judge the accomplishments of Thomas Wilfredo Grant as a man, father, but more as an athlete. He played almost every sport you can name. Thomas you fought a great fight the part 11 years. Take your rest Tom, you’ve earned it.”
The national icon, who played a number of sports in track and field, basketball, softball, volleyball, cricket and rugby and made an invaluable contribution as an coach, official and administrator, left behind two daughters and five sons, two adopted daughters and adopted sons, who have all made strides to carry on his legacy.
He was the first Bahamian recruiter for a major institute - St Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the first Bahamian to become an international certified volleyball referee.
Tom Jr. said he used the moments as bonding opportunities as he learned the game of volleyball from his father.
“We bonded throughout the years growing together as father and son, you took me to all your volleyball practices and games as a coach and a volleyball referee, I being your assistant. coach and we officiating volleyball games together were the highlight of our relationship,” he said, “I think the proudest moment for me was when I. decided to follow in your footsteps to become a volleyball referee. We were the only father and son duo to officiate. volleyball games together. We talked, laughed, argued and spent a lot of time together.”I am and will always be proud of all your success and achievements during your sporting career. I am proud to be called your son and to carry your name.”
For over 50 years he served as ä champion sprinter and the coach of champion sprinters, as the country’s first internationally certified volleyball official and as the head coach of the national team that won this country’s. first game in international volleyball; or a valuable member of the 4 X 100 Relay Team that earned this country its first international track and field Medal (1957), or as Coach Steve “Bulla” Pinder’s flamboyant basketball scoring machine with the championship Pinder’s Barber Shop Club.
On October 21, 2006, Grant was honoured by the Government of the Bahamas when Prime Minister Christie declared it as Thomas “The Bird” Grant Day.
Christie highlighted the list of dignitaries on hand to pay their respects to Grant at the Tom ‘The Bird’ Grant Park in Yellow Elder last week.
A number of people showed up to pay tribute to Grant during a memorial service on Wednesday night.
Among those in attendance were Dr Norman Gay, Timothy Munnings, director of sports, Mike Sands, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations, members of the Bahamas Volleyball Federation and other sporting bodies.
He was interned at Lakeview Cemetary.