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Playing for Parker

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Karson King's biggest critic on the basketball court was his 10-year-old cousin Parker.

"He would say, 'Karson you got to start making shots. Braxton, Luke you guys gotta start getting rebounds,'" King said.

As the Jackson junior took the Show Me Center floor for last week's Christmas Tournament, it was with his cousin close at heart.

"Parker was the man," King said with a smile. "He was just 10 years old, but he'd question you, he'd have a conversation with a stranger. I'm just doing it all for him. He was a great kid, and I loved him."

Ten days ago Parker King was a passenger in an ATV when the 13-year-old driver lost control and the 4-weheeler flipped. On Wednesday, Parker passed away.

"I was just thinking c'mon Park, I know you're strong,"King said. "He used to be on the wrestling team, we'd wrestle, I figured he'd just fight right through it and win, but hey, he's in a better place now."

The next day was the start of the tournament, where the Jackson community came together around their team as it played for Parker.

"It just means a lot about the town of Jackson," King said. "They all were rallying around us. It gave me a place of closure, really meant a lot. I love my town man. They love me, I love them."

Even though Parker was gone, he was far from forgotten.

On signs and shirts, ribbons and shoes, Parker's name was everywhere -- becoming the team's sixth man.

"He was definitely with us, he was sitting on the edge of the bench like normal, just yelling at me, for what I was doing right and wrong," King said.

"The team has really pulled together," said Sheila King, Karson's mom and Parker's aunt. "I mean the boys are like a family anyway, but its just amazing how they've pulled together and been good support."

Inspired, 5th-seeded Jackson took home 3rd place, led by Karson King's all-tournament performance.

"It was all for him, all for him," Karson said.

It was a performance Parker would've surely been proud of.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Bank of Missouri or Saint Paul Lutheran School in care of the Parker King memorial.

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