- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 26, 2016

BUFFALO, Ill. (AP) - Trever Martin remembers being with his friend and basketball teammate Andrew “Dewie” Gordon throughout the difficult final days of 2015.

Gordon wasn’t physically sick, but Martin said his friend needed some medicine.

“I was with him that whole week,” Martin said Wednesday during a practice in the Buffalo Tri-City High School gymnasium.

“Dewie was like, ‘Why are we not practicing?’ All he wanted to do was get in the gym, whether we’d be just running or actually practicing. He just wanted to be in here.”

Gordon, a 5-foot-9 junior starter for the Tornadoes, said he fell in love with basketball when he was in eighth grade. But he missed part of his freshman season at Tri-City in order to be with his mother, Debra Weinant, who was in the final stages of a battle with cancer before her death in February 2014.



Missing part of that season made Gordon appreciate the game and his teammates even more. If he needed another reminder, he got it in crushing fashion on Dec. 29.

The bodies of his father, Robert Gordon, and Robert’s girlfriend, Cindy Dexheimer, were found in floodwaters in Christian County.

“I don’t know; I’m pretty good at not letting it affect me,” Dewie said of losing both parents in less than two years.

“My dad would say, ‘Everything’s temporary.’ The pain I feel now, it’s temporary. I’m not saying I won’t feel it in the future. But I can work through it. I just try to get past the anger and the depression I feel sometimes.”

Extended family

Dewie’s now living with his aunt, Bobby Jo Purdeu, who resides in Decatur. He also has an older sister, Cassidy Gordon. But he said his teachers, coaches, classmates and teammates have been a much-needed extended family helping him deal with his losses.

“Everybody’s been very supportive,” Dewie said. “Anybody I talk to or see, it’s been the same thing.

“It was the same way when my mom passed away. It feels like everyone’s rooting for me. I think being in a small town makes it easier.”

Two teammates in particular, Martin and junior Devon Matthews, have close friendships with Dewie.

“I’m with him all the time,” said Martin, who hopes to return to action soon after being sidelined with a thumb injury for more than a month. “You can tell he’s in a better mood whenever he’s in (the gym). Basketball definitely helps him.

“But he’s had to grow up fast. He has to be a man now. I told him he can either let this make him or break him. And he’s not letting it break him.”

Matthews said Dewie’s play has intensified since the new calendar year began. The game has given him an outlet, and in turn, he’s given more to his team.

“I think it helped him a lot just to get in the gym and get his mind off things,” Matthews said. “Lately, he’s really brought it more than he did at the start of the season.

“He’s been more a lot more aggressive offensively, especially in the county tournament (12 points against Pawnee and nine against Riverton).”

Back in the game

Tri-City coach Steve Dilley admitted he wasn’t sure if Dewie would be back for the first post-holiday practice on Jan. 4. His fears were relieved quickly.

“I walked into the gym just hoping he’d be there,” Dilley said. “He was there, and that was step one.

“Not only that, he was getting after it. And he was vocal and really getting into practice. Since then, he’s really been dialed in, so to speak.”

Dilley said Tri-City plans to have a mostaccioli dinner, as a fundraiser for Dewie, before the Tornadoes’ home game against South County on Feb. 5. But the 12th-year head coach said Dewie isn’t getting any special favors on the basketball court.

“I told him, ‘We’re not going to go easy on you just because you got thrown a bad hand,’” Dilley said. “We still have expectations of you, and we’re going to try to make you the best man that we can.’

“I think he understands that. I couldn’t be prouder of him. Hopefully he’ll keep it going, and I think he will.”

Dewie agreed with Martin’s observation about having to grow up quickly. Along those lines, he thinks he’ll probably live on his own after turning 18 later this year.

“I think he’s handling things pretty well,” said Purdeu, who is Rob Gordon’s sister. “He keeps things kind of close, he doesn’t talk about his feelings a whole lot.

“He’s asked me how to pay bills, things like that. He’s trying to become more independent.”

‘Just be resilient’

Even though he admittedly was emotionally closer to his mother, Dewie said he owes a lot to his father for helping prepare him for life.

“He helped me get out of the deep depression I had after my mom died,” Dewie said. “He did everything he could to help me. I think he tried to get me to grow up a little bit, too.”

While he credits others, including his basketball family at Tri-City, for helping him cope with the “bad hand” Dilley spoke of, when it comes down to it, Dewie said it’s like standing alone at the free throw line. There won’t always be a helping hand.

“Just be resilient; that’s the best thing I could say,” he said. “If you lose somebody, of course it won’t be easy. But there will be other hard things thrown at you after that.

“Not everyone’s going to let you cruise through.”

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Source: The (Springfield) State Journal-Register: https://bit.ly/1PvUjGK

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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