LOGAN – There were both laughs and tears in the conference room of the Smith Spectrum Wednesday afternoon when former teammates, friends and family of Wayne Estes met together, reminisced and shared stories about the Utah State University basketball legend. The reunion took place shortly after the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Wayne Estes Center.
Estes was an All-American basketball player who was fatally electrocuted February 8, 1965, the same night he scored his 2,001st career point and broke the Nelson Fieldhouse scoring record. But to the people who knew Estes they say he was an even better person than he was an athlete.
“He was just happy to be here and to be a basketball player,” said Del Lyons, who was Estes’ teammate at USU. “That’s just the kind of guy he was.”
Many of Estes’ friends knew him as “Baby Huey.” They recalled the funny stories and jokes Estes was a part of during their time together. Leroy Walker told a story about a basketball game he and Estes played in together in a hard-fought victory against the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He said that Estes scored 32 points and he scored 33, the only time he had ever outscored Estes.
“After the game Wayne looked over at me and said, ‘Good game little fella,’” Walker said as he laughed. “Me and him were two of the most goof-off guys on campus.”
Scott Parrish was a young kid when he knew Estes. Parrish’s older brother Alan Parrish was Estes’ teammate and got to know Estes through watching his brother play basketball with him.
“Wayne was really a cool guy,” he said. “He used to grab me from behind and bear hug me and tell me I was just like his fat little brother Ronnie.”
Eleanor Olson was Estes’ classmate and would later go on to write his biography. She said she was shy when she was a student, but that Estes would always make an effort to talk to her.
“I had the mistake of asking a friend to get her professor to get Wayne to sign my program,” she said. “He looked me up and forever after it was ‘Hi, Eleanor. How are you doing? How is this going? Coming to the game?’ I was a nobody, but writing that book was the best thing for me in the world.”
In addition to sharing stories about Estes, the group watched highlights from Estes’ last game, including his final shot.
“You all know what kind of a person he was,” said Ron Estes, Wayne Estes’ younger brother. “Me, a 9, 10, 11-year-old kid with Wayne as your big brother it was pretty special. This has sure been good for me, talking to you people, his friends and teammates.”