Local youth basketball team dedicates undefeated season to late coach

Silk Hope Warriors win conference championship in honor of Kenny Glover


Ahead of the 2023-24 Silk Hope Warriors 12U boys basketball season, Charles Daniel wasn’t too thrilled about returning to coach.

Less than a year before the start of the season, he found out he would have to do it without his longtime best friend and coaching partner, Kenny Glover. Glover died from a gastrointestinal bleed while on a beach trip with his family on April 15.

“(The) Lord can tell you, I sent a text out and said, ‘I’ve got to pray about this,’” Daniel said. “It was kind of like Batman and Robin. I’m losing my partner, and it was kind of tough. I didn’t know how I was going to do it.”

For Daniel and Glover, sharing a sideline, and life, was a together thing, and that’s how it had been for decades.

Daniel couldn’t have imagined coaching without him, but the boys they’d nurtured since they were in elementary school wanted to keep going for Coach Kenny. And in a season dedicated to him, the Warriors went 8-0 during the regular season and finished as the Chatham County Northern Conference regular season champions.

“It felt pretty good,” Hayden Dark, a Warriors player, said. “It’s sad that Coach Kenny wasn’t there. I wish he was there to watch us play.”


Glover’s relationship with Daniel and the Warriors goes back to 2002 when he and Daniel met at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Goldston, North Carolina. The two quickly found that they shared a love for basketball and baseball, and they began their reign as sports buddies by playing on the church softball team together.

When the time came for Daniel to get back to coaching his daughter and son’s basketball teams, Glover asked if he needed any help.

“I said I’d be glad to have help,” Daniel said. “It made a big difference.”

From there, Daniel and Glover’s relationship blossomed to go well beyond the court. Through Glover’s service at the church as a singer and a teacher, home visits, golf games and seasons of coaching together, the two became family.

“He would say, ‘I’m a Glover by blood, but I’m a Daniel,’” Latasha Degraffenreaidt, Glover’s daughter, said.

In 2016, Daniel actually wanted to walk away from coaching, but with Glover still wanting to coach his grandson, Braylon Degraffenreaidt, he couldn’t say no.

The group that kept the two together won the Chatham County Western Conference regular season championship in 2019 as the Silk Hope Nuggets, and most of them returned and grew up to become the Warriors team of today. Throughout that time, the boys formed their own memories with Glover, who mainly taught them defense.

“He would always joke around with us,” Jackson Clark, another Warriors player, said.

Said Degraffenreaidt, “He was always funny. They taught us the fundamentals of basketball, and they made it fun.”

Glover used to run a game called “strawberries” in which players would fight for the ball placed at the free throw line, and whoever got it was on offense while the other player was on defense. Sometimes, Glover would compete against the boys when they weren’t doing the drill right, rolling around on the ground with them and making them work for the ball.

That drill complimented Glover’s efforts to also teach the boys to never give up.

For Coach Kenny

Daniel broke down with emotion during the first practice of the 2023-24 season.

He and the boys could feel the sting of Glover’s absence, and the players could also feel Daniel’s pain of losing someone as close as a brother.

“They supported me,” Daniel said. “They loved me. The kids were great. The kids could tell when I was hurting, and they were there.”

From December to February, the boys were determined to keep Glover’s memory alive through basketball.

Although they couldn’t hear his “butt down, hands up” chants on the sideline, the Warriors played like he was still with them, starting the season on a five game winning streak.

“I would say for the first four games, it was regular, like if Coach Kenny was there,” Dark said. “Once the season got more into it, we were all locked in, and we were like, ‘We’re doing this for Coach Kenny.’ We all started communicating more, giving each other high fives (and) pats on the backs.”

With a 5-0 record, the Warriors knew the season could be even more special as their next game against the Bonlee Lakers had conference championship implications.

The Warriors beat the Lakers in the first game of the season by double digits. Bonlee already had two tall players down low, but before their second meeting, the Lakers added another big man on the team.

Also, Silk Hope was down to just six available players before the second game, missing one of their own big men. In the first quarter, Clark picked up two fouls, and a rough start caused the Warriors to trail, 13-10 — a rare occurrence for them during the season.

It also caused Daniel to make some defensive adjustments — something Glover used to do.

“I just changed the defense,” Daniel said. “I said, ‘Ok, I can’t get (Clark) in foul trouble by putting him on their biggest guy.’”

After switching the matchup, Silk Hope began to hit some shots on the offensive end and make a run. Down a key piece, it took contributions from everyone, including Degraffenreaidt who scored double-digit points for the first time that season.

The Warriors pulled out a dominant 58-21 win to clinch the conference title.

“When they won that game, they pretty much knew (they’re) not losing,” Daniel said.

Like it was 2019 with Glover on the sideline again, Silk Hope won its last three games of the season. The boys completed a special year for their beloved coach like they wanted, and for Daniel, the choice to come back was worth it.

“I got to be the beneficiary of them wanting to do it for Coach Kenny,” Daniel said. “I’m glad I did it.”