Tributes paid to Leicester Riders basketball team coach Kris Ledgard, who died suddenly, aged 22
Tributes have been paid to a Leicester Riders basketball team coach who has died suddenly, aged 22.
Kris Ledgard was popular with players and fans alike, as he took the team through their pre-game warm-ups.
The former Loughborough University student's 12 months as the club's strength and conditioning coach coincided with the most successful season in the team's history.
He is understood to have collapsed and died while visiting his parents in Milton Keynes, last Friday.
The Riders will be holding a minute of applause for Kris before their game against London Lions on Saturday, where his parents and brother will be guests of honour.
The team will also wear black ribbons on their kit in memory of him.
Head coach Rob Paternostro said: "It's an absolute tragedy and we are all devastated, particularly for his family.
"Kris did a fantastic job with our players last season.
"He was a valued member of our staff and was instrumental in our success on the court, but what I will remember most was that he was one of the guys, someone who we all enjoyed being around. We will miss him hugely."
Kris's dad Peter said: "As a family we are devastated by the sudden passing of Kris.
"We take comfort from all the kind words and messages of condolence."
With Kris overseeing the players' preparation for games, Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders finished second to Newcastle Eagles in the British Basketball League, before narrowly losing to the same opponents in the play-off final.
It was Matt Harber, Riders' women's team coach. who spotted Kris's talent and recommended him to bosses.
"I can't even articulate how I feel about Kris's passing," he said. "All I know is that we were all so fortunate to have known him and to have had the opportunity to work with and get to know him.
"He offered so much to our programme and to me and he will be truly missed but never forgotten.
"He has made a permanent impact on our basketball programme and that will live on."
Kris also worked with Riders' Loughborough University programme and the team's apprentices in their Advanced Apprenticeship in Sport Excellence basketball programme at the town's Charnwood College.
Russell Levenston, Riders' general manager, said: "He fitted in and got on really well with all the guys, from the professionals right down to the student teams and schoolkids.
"His impact was massive and key to us enjoying the best year in our team's history.
"His sudden death has shocked and saddened everyone involved with the Riders.
"He achieved so much in such a short time and had so much more to offer – his legacy will live on with the club."
Phil Gleadell, head of PE at Charnwood College and Riders' assistant coach, said: "Kris was a big hit with the young players. They are all very upset. He was such a professional but also a really nice bloke and genuine guy."