This year’s Olive Branch High School boys’ basketball team has something their alum K.J. Wright didn’t get when he was in high school: a state championship.
Wright, a starting linebacker with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and part of the Super Bowl championship team in 2014, was a pretty good player in his days on the Olive Branch basketball floor, says the man his classmates called “The Elevator.”
“We were undefeated in the regular season but we messed up and gave up a big fourth quarter lead my senior year and blew it,” Wright relates. “We had a pretty good team and I believe my team could beat this team but we’ll never figure that out.”
While this year’s Conquistadors have the title Wright’s team never got, the NFL star has made sure the younger Quistors enjoy a keepsake of their special year. They both now have championship rings with Wright covering the entire cost of the state title rings for the team.
“I took it upon myself to give back to them and give back to the school because they’ve done a lot of great things for me,” Wright said. “I’ve been blessed myself to be able to play in the NFL and make a few dollars, so this is a small token of my appreciation for all this school has done for me.”
A check presentation was held at the school with Wright joined by coach Eric Rombaugh, principal Jacob Stripling and Supt. Cory Uselton on hand, along with teacher Connie Lambert, who taught Wright when he was in high school.
“After we won we started looking for donations and Miss Lambert reached out to K.J. and asked if he would like to donate,” Rombaugh said. “He said he’d love to and not only that, but he’d like to pay the entire cost of the rings. He donated close to $6,000. They’re going to look pretty, they’re going to be nice.”
Stripling thanked Wright for the donation and reflected that in his first year as Olive Branch High principal, he has learned a lot about what OB Pride is all about.
“Until you walk these halls for a couple of months, until you go to the football games, the basketball games and you know the athletes and the coaches, you don’t fully understand what OB Pride is,” Stripling said. “I tell you, OB Pride is a true thing, it really is. K.J. Wright is a perfect example of that.”
Wright was a three-sport athletic star in high school, played football, basketball and participated in track. He focused on football at Mississippi State and was drafted in the fourth round by the Seahawks in the 2011 NFL Draft.
“To have alumni like K.J. that’s willing to step up for these boys, we’re very fortunate,” Rombaugh said. “K.J. started this thing many, many years ago with coach (Andy) Orr. For us to finally win the championship and to hear from K.J. and some of the players from before, the pride they still have with Olive Branch is real nice.”
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.