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A game of hoops to honor two fallen stars

Trustee Ethan Leder has led the charge to create a scholarship—and a memorial basketball game—to honor two fellow alumni that perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks
Posted January 20, 2015
Family members of Matt O'Mahony and Glenn Wall present awards to the 2014 memorial game MVPs.  Pictured (Left to Right): Jimmy Hammer, A&S '14; Avery Wall; Robert O'Mahoney, Jr.; and Malique Killing from Muhlenberg college. Family members of Matt O'Mahony and Glenn Wall present awards to the 2014 memorial game MVPs. Pictured (Left to Right): Jimmy Hammer, A&S '14; Avery Wall; Robert O'Mahoney, Jr.; and Malique Killing from Muhlenberg college.

Every year, the Johns Hopkins basketball community gathers to pay tribute to two of their own. The Wall-O’Mahony Memorial Basketball game began after Glenn Wall and Matt O’Mahony passed away during the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center.  Friends, family, and former teammates of the 1984 graduates, who were known for their charismatic personalities on and off the court, built a lasting tribute by creating an endowed scholarship fund and naming the men’s basketball locker room and student-athlete lounge in their honor. The celebration of the first scholarship recipient was tied into the Hopkins’ basketball alumni weekend; a tradition still going on today.

“The game started as a way to honor Glen and Matt, and gave us a place to celebrate their lives,” says Ethan Leder, A&S ’84. “Now, it has grown rather organically, as Coach Nelson and the team has really embraced the impact this game has had on the Hopkins basketball community.”

Leder was instrumental in starting the scholarship and garnering alumni interest in the first game, along with some close Hopkins classmates. Basketball was a big part of their undergraduate time at Hopkins and they felt a responsibility to help the current team have a similar experience. Together, the group established the Wall-O’Mahony Memorial Scholarship as a tribute to their friends and former teammates. This scholarship fund, which has raised $214,522.48 to date, is awarded to a Krieger School of Arts and Sciences undergraduate student who demonstrates an interest in athletics and is well rounded. The fund has also supported team expenses such as travel to away games.

At the conclusion of the men’s varsity basketball game, awards are presented by family members of Wall and O’Mahony to the most valuable player from both Johns Hopkins and the visiting team. This year, the Memorial Basketball game will be held on January 31 against Haverford College at 1:00 p.m. in the Goldfarb Gymnasium. Following the game, the Wall-O’Mahony Memorial Scholarship recipient is honored at an annual luncheon. This year’s recipient is Daryl Chin, a sophomore international studies major from Brooklyn, NY.

Because this game is held during basketball’s alumni weekend, and is one of the last home game for seniors, the afternoon garners a consistently large crowd of friends, family, and alumni.

“The game and celebration have helped develop an even more engrained sense of community around Hopkins basketball” says Leder. “This event has grown to become more than just about honoring Glen and Matt’s lives, but also fosters great comradery across friends, family and teammates spanning many generations. This is something that Glen and Matt would have absolutely loved and embraced.  I have a feeling that year in, year out, they would have continued the celebrations late into the night and outlasted all the current Hopkins players and young alumni.”

Glen’s widow, Diane, and his two daughters, Payton and Avery, have attended the memorial game every year since its inception and have even presented the M.V.P. awards after the game. Payton, who is currently a senior in high school, has already announced that she will be attending Johns Hopkins next fall, carrying on her father’s Blue Jay legacy.