It’s been more than 15 years since Bobby Phills left this earth, but the former Southern star and NBA starter’s impact is still being felt.
Ben Jobe, Phills’ coach at Southern, spoke with Grantland about one of his protégées for a story reflecting on his life. Jobe told Grantland he was more interested in keeping Phills on the team for his GPA than his scoring average initially, but that soon wore off.
“My god, he had the whole package,” Jobe said of Phills. “Athleticism. Intelligence. What else do you need? He had everything. Anyone would want a kid like that on their team. He was perfect. I used to feel so bad about [Phills’s death], I used to wonder why couldn’t it have been some of the other guys I had. I had some real jocks — they weren’t interested in anything but playing ball. In many cases, that’s all they had the intellect to do. Yeah, Bobby was perfect. He had all the things that you want in a human being. He had it all.”
Phills would go on to become an elite-NBA defender and a serviceable scorer, first for the Cleveland Cavaliers and later for the Charlotte Hornets. Unfortunately, his career and life were cut short in a car accident in Jan. 2015.
Jobe said Phills’ death really shook him.
That thing with Bobby Phills, I’m telling you, it almost made me lose my faith. He’s the last person something like that should happen to. That boy he was speeding with, I don’t know what I would have done if I would have seen him. I don’t even know his name. I don’t know his face. I don’t know anything about him. I blamed him. When something like that happens, you blame everybody. I blamed his parents. I blamed the Charlotte Hornets. I blamed everybody. It got so bad, I blamed God. It just don’t make no sense.