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Hornets Retire Phills' No. 13

CHARLOTTE, Feb. 9 -- The Hornets retired Bobby Phills' No. 13 jersey during halftime of Wednesday night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Charlotte Coliseum.

The ceremony included a video tribute and a song performance by Regina Belle, the wife of former NBA player John Battle and close family friend to the Phills. A check for the Bobby Phills Scholarship Fund was presented to Phills' wife, Kendall, from the Charlotte Hornets players. Framed jerseys were presented to Kendall Phills and Bobby's parents, Dr. and Mrs. Bobby Phills Sr. The inscription read, "Son, Husband, Father, Teammate and Friend."

Bobby Phills
The Hornets retired Bobby Phills' jersey on Feb. 9 at halftime. (Hornets Photos)
For the finale, Bobby's son, Bobby Ray Phills III - also known as Trey - and brother, Dwayne, raised the No. 13 to the rafters of the Charlotte Coliseum. It was the first number to be retired in franchise history. Everyone in attendance received a card and lapel pin commemorating the jersey retirement, the highest honor a professional sports team can give to a player.

"This tribute by the organization was put together as a way to remember Bobby as a player and as an active member of the Charlotte community," Sam Russo, Hornets executive vice president of business, said before the ceremony. "His jersey hanging from the rafters will be a constant reminder to everyone walking into the building of what a positive role model he was."

Phills was killed Jan. 12 in an automobile accident less than two miles from the Charlotte Coliseum on Tyvola Road after the team's morning shootaround. The team's game uniforms have had a black patch on the right side of the jersey since their first game back. They will continue to wear the patch for the remainder of the season.

On the day of the accident, NBA Commissioner David Stern said, "Bobby Phills represented the very best of the NBA. We all know Bobby was a talented and competitive player. But he was also one of the most respected members of the NBA, a valued teammate and a caring member of the community. He will be greatly missed by the entire NBA family and basketball fans around the world."

The nine-year NBA veteran came to the Hornets as a free agent Aug. 19, 1997. He signed a multiyear contract just one month after the team signed point guard David Wesley to form Charlotte's new backcourt for the 1997-98 season.

Phills was one of the team's leaders, especially for the 1999-2000 season when he was one of the team's co-captains. After two years as a starter, he became one of the Hornets' first players off the bench this season and was one of the leading early candidates for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award.

In addition to his on-court accomplishments, Phills was known as one of the true gentlemen in the NBA. He was named as one of the four finalists for the NBA's Sportsmanship Award in 1998. Bobby held a bachelor's degree in animal science from Southern University and contemplated a career in veterinary medicine.

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