We often ask why?

Why, why, why?

As I am composing this blog entry, I am saddened to report that a very good friend who I grew up with lost his son in a car accident.

Alexis Gumusdere died at the age of 19.

If the last name rings a bell, well, Alexis was the son of Turhan Gumusdere, A.K.A., Turk.


Turk was one of my best friends growing up as a teenager.   He grew up on Prospect Park Southwest and Greenwood avenue.  Turk also spent a lot of time at East 5th street playing ball from sun up until sun down.    I first met him at Jack Curren’s basketball camp when I was 14 years old.  He came to my rescue when some kids were making fun of me calling me ‘The Joker” because of my red hair. (We still talk about it 30 years later)

Ever since that day I spent a lot of time with Turk.

We played ball together, went out to clubs and hung out on Brighton 6.

We rode our bikes down Ocean Parkway to Manhattan Beach to play ball, we rode the trains into the city and hung out all over town and while he was a bouncer at 1018, I hung out with him outside watching all the people go inside.

Turk got me in Danceteria and many other clubs around the city.  I recall one night we were on the F-Train and I had a boom box playing just a bit too loud and a Transit cop came out of nowhere and slapped me with a ticket.

Turk also played for Brooklyn College men’s basketball team and one night in particular we were all in the house watching the Kingsmen play the Naval Academy.  Turk was going up and down doing his thing.  Little did we know at the time Navy’s center was a 6’7″ freshman named David Robinson.

Words can’t express how I feel as a parent of a nine year-old.  I wish Turk all the best, I know it’s going to be difficult.  Give him a shout out here on the comments section to tell him you are thinking of him.  He’s a a great dude and his son will be missed by all.

Here is the story from their local newspaper.


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42 Responses to TOO, TOO YOUNG!

  1. Betty T.B.K. says:

    Turk, so sorry for the loss of your son, please know that I will be praying for you. Cant imagine how you and your family are feeling.

  2. hoopscoach says:

    Thanks Betty…Turk reads the blog so I’m sure he’ll appreciate your comments.

  3. Karen (Artz) Shanley says:

    Turk – my sincere condolences on the loss of your son. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

  4. jimmy vac says:

    My condolensces and prayers go out to you and your family…

  5. Diane says:

    The loss of a child has to be one of the hardest things imaginable. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family

  6. Hermy says:

    Hello Turk,
    My prayers go out to you and your family, I will keep you and your wife in my prayers…

  7. Miranda says:

    he shudnt hav passed…it just isnt right.

    i knew him along with practically the whole class of 09

    he was so funny and so nice

    he just had one of those personalities that you cant forget

    we’ll all miss him


  8. cedrick says:

    We all loved him dearly. He was the greatest guy on earth. Everything written about Lex is true. The kindest, warmest and most gifted kid in our class. Abig teddybear!
    Was going to Ramapo College to play baseball this fall. He will be missed and the world lost a great person who would have made a difference in any life he touched.

    LOVE YOU LEXXX!!!!!@

  9. M&W Rivera says:

    Just wanted to give our sincere condolences to you and your wife Wanda and son Dylan. Alexis was a true gem and although it will be difficult, you may smile knowing that the overwhelming display of love by so many people for him shows that you guys did an excellent job with him and that he is now your protective angel looking over all of you. May God give you strength during this most difficult time….we will keep you in prayer…

  10. Dan Leary says:

    Turk and family, words cannot express how I feel for you and your family. When I saw you at Jackies premier, it was like old times. I remember how proud you were of Alexis. I know you had a special relationship with Alexis and for that you are very lucky. We are praying for you and your family. Peace

    • hoopscoach says:

      Good stuff Danny! I recall talking with T and he was telling me how proud he was of Alexis because the kid loved baseball so much. I made some great friends while going down East 5th street as a young teen. You, Turk, Jackie, Billy, Randy, Deeeeeeeeeeeeeee, Billy Geli, Marty Cohen, Paulie Medina and many others.

  11. Glenn Thomas says:

    I am saddened by the tragic loss of a good friend’s son. I wanted to give the readers a little info on Lex’s dad Turk for the person that I know. Turhan aka Turk was and still is a great friend growing up in the neighborhood. We went to Bishop Ford together and although he was a couple of years older than Steve and myself, we all played hoops together down at East 5th Street Park. Guys like Steve Finamore, Jackie Ryan, Billy Ryan, Chris Logan, and Dan Leary, We all played hoops and hung out together often times arranging a team of “5” and going all over to Brooklyn to play at playgrounds looking for good competition and assembling a team that would win and stay on the court. We would all jump on our bikes and go to such venues like Manhattan Beach, Under the Verazzano Bridge, Marine Park, and Dyker Park just to find a good “run”. After playing at Brooklyn College Turk later got married and moved upstate to the Monroe-Woodbury area. I never knew his son Lex for Turk was out of Brooklyn before Lex was born. I know that Lex was and still is a great kid. Mom and dad would not have it any other way. The outpouring from his classmates and friends was overwhelming! As parents we always count on our kids to outlive us and when the reverse happens it is an unbelieveably hard pill to swallow. I went through that for I witnessed my parents go through the loss of my sibling years back and having to watch my parents bury their son. It almost pulled my family apart. My heart and prayers as well as those of my family go out to Turk, Wanda, and the Gumusdere family for this sudden and tragic loss. Words cannot express how sorry I am for you all. May God bless you all and may he bless Alexis Gumusdere and may God also rest his soul.
    Glenn Thomas and The Thomas Family

    • hoopscoach says:

      Well said…T was one of the best I have ever met. I’m sure Alexis was the same. We had great times together didn’t we? I love the story of you and him in the Village and some clowns were throwing food and something hit Turk…LOL

      Also, remember the doorman at Danceteria? He loved Turk!

      Peace T…Alexis G. RIP

  12. I was blessed with one little brother, and Lex was always my 2nd that made me even luckier. I spent many days and nights watching him grow – keeping our family company and smiling through tough times, and making us laugh even more through the better. From a young, budding baseball player to a lovely, charming adult – he’s always been a great influence and friend to our family – and has always been like blood.

    I could have never asked for a better person to be at my brother’s side growing up, and although he’s gone now – I know that he’s still always got his back and will be a guiding force in his own way.

    To the Gumusderes – you’ve always been like family to me – and that’ll never change. My door, heart, and phone is always open, and I’ll still be around forever to be by your sides. The loss is great now, but that should never mean you should stop celebrating life – his, and all. Keep on smiling, and be strong for one another. Family is the best, and closest thing we’ve all got, and you guys were always there to teach me that. I love you all forever.

    Always and forever,


  13. Glenn Thomas says:

    Tommy was the name of the doorman at Danceteria. He was a lawyer and you remember that story of those guys throwing food in front of the W. 4th Street playground? Wow! Great memory! I forgot all about that!

  14. Andrew Purdy says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with Turk and his family during this difficult time.

    I haven’t seen Turk in a while, but one thing I remember was that he set me up with a one on one tryout with Mark Reiner who was head coach at Brooklyn College. Turk always went out of his way.

  15. D Leary says:

    Well said Glenn, Always had laughs hanging out with Turk. I called him yesterday and got his voice mail and Im glad because I dont know what I would have said. I really feel for him and his family. One of my best friends growing up. Wonder what DEEEE and Paulie are doing these days. I could hear Turk announcing DEEEEE as he came into the park.

  16. Glenn Thomas says:

    Dan Leary,
    Darnell Jacobs aka Deeeeeee!!! He would go over to Madison Square Garden and sign autographs where the players would come out and exit by Charlie O’s Bar/Restaurant and he would sign his name Darnell Jacobs with Columbia University 4.0 GPA! lol! As for Paulie Medina he probably went back to Houston Tx after owing my parents about $1 G in back rent. Lord knows what happened to him. Remember that guy Dom who loooked like the guy from that movie Bloodsport and who could forget some other notable characters like Guido(who played with his Kangol hat on), Angelo Bank, Vester Reed. I gotta get Steve and Jackie Ryan, and Ron Hardy to add some names! Do you remember that guy Jules on Saturday mornings with his family sitting in the lounge chairs watching him, you, and your brothers playing? lol!

  17. John Merz says:

    What a terrible loss this is…. I happened to be on facebook and saw Red’s blog and then following through a bit came to the information about Lex. I don’t know what to say except that my prayers are with you and the family right now.
    Peace Turk, you have many supporting friends out here.
    John M

  18. Fr. Peter says:

    As I offer Mass on Saturday I will keep Alexis and his family in my prayers!

    To Dan Leary, just your presence and voice is all that is needed to be said, and heard. Turk will rememeber your support for the rest of his life.

    To hoopsCoach… …You are doing a great job with this blog! Thanks
    Fr. Peter J. Rayder

  19. Turk Gumusdere says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words. I truly appreciate your thoughts and concern as I try to cope with a parents worst nightmare.

    Today I will be burying my son Alexis. From this point on I will never ever see my lovely son Alexis again. I will never see his gleaming smile, his curly black hair, or feel his warmth and love ever again. I will never hear the sounds of laughter as he played with his little brother Dylan. I will never hear the alarm clock going off at 4am and the sounds of weights being lifted before he went off to school. I will never hear his 10am daily phone call that I would get at work telling me to be careful and that he loved me and would see me later when I get home. So many things that I would never hear or see again. So many.

    My relationship with my son Alexis started on December 5th, 1989 at 2:02 am in Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn NY and ended on February 24th, 2009. During our short time together not a day went by that I didnt tell him how proud I was of him and how much I loved him. I absolutely adored my son and loved everything about him and I made sure he knew that. He brought so much joy to my life that it made life’s daily struggles nonexistent. As long as we were together and Alexis was happy and content, nothing else mattered as far as I was concerned. Not a thing!

    We had a very special relationship and I took pride in helping him develop and watching him excel in life, school and sports, to the point the day before his death he had committed to go to Ramapo College to play baseball. His proudest moment and accomplishment to date. Something he had worked so hard for and dedicated all his free time to. His dream came true. As I write this heart wrenching little story about my son Alexis, he lays in a coffin a few miles away from home wearing a Ramapo College baseball uniform displaying proudly for everyone who knew him…I made it fellas, I made the team! A special thank you to Coach Rich Martin from Ramapo College who made this kind gesture possible and should be commended for his kind efforts. He is a true gentleman.

    In closing:
    Alexis I love you and I will always be there for you, a promise I made to you on December 5th, 1989 at 2:02 am to which I will keep forever. Alexis, thank you so much for your memories, and the lives you touched during your short stay with us. You made our lives an absolute joy and you are truly missed my son. I love you and always will until we meet again, stay strong and always smile.


  20. Glenn Thomas says:

    Well said! That was beautifully written and expressed and just an absolute moving tribute to Alexis! Wonderful!

  21. Arthur Bernstein says:

    Turk, Wanda, and Dylan
    I just spoke to Mark about 1/2 hour ago and what I heard breaks my heart. Nothing can replace your loss but know that even though we haven’t spoken in a while my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. If there isa anything I can do to help you during this time please feel free to reach out, it’s been too long.


  22. hoopscoach says:


    Great job! You have been an outstanding parent! Stay strong, Dylan and Wanda need you!

    Wish you and I could meet at East 5th with Jackie, Paulie Medina, Mark Pearson, John M., Zeeeeeee, Glen, Billy, Ron Hardy, Marty Cohen, Chris Ryan, The Geli’s, Dan Leary, Tommy and Mergin Sina, Bicky, Frankie Cullen, Deeeeeeeeeeeeeee and of course Guido and play a game of 3 on 3 or maybe just shoot some jumpers.

    If we weren’t playing we’d be sitting on that bench against the fence shooting the breeze. I’ll never forget the night Tommy Sina told us about Scottie Pippen the night of the draft!

  23. hoopscoach says:

    Father Peter,

    Thank you and hope you are well.

  24. hoopscoach says:

    John Merz,

    Hope you’re well!

    Andy and Dan,

    Great stuff!

  25. dan Leary says:


  26. Cliff Bowen says:

    Turhan- I was saddened by the news of your son’s passing.
    Many years ago we shared a wonderful childhood, growing up on the parkside. I remember the days of shooting pucks at the garage on Reeves Pl. and playing football in the park. The days were shared with the Mooney’s, Tully’s and whoever else wanted to play the sports we played ALL THE TIME.
    Turhan, I wish you and your family the very best during this time of healing. As you can see, you are loved and have the support of many. I hope to see you soon.
    All of God’s Blessings, Cliff Bowen & family

  27. D Leary says:

    FATHER PETE, Thanks. Hope all is well with you.

  28. Greg Sullivan says:


    I am not sure if you remember me from Brooklyn College but I just heard this very sad news and wanted to express my sincere condolences. Your tribute to your son was beautiful. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. – GS

  29. Martha Rodriguez says:


    Kerry just notified me of your loss, and as the mother of two children, I am deeply sorry. May your time of healing bring you peace. I’m sure he was a wonderful young man with you as his mentor. God bless you and the rest of your family. Be sure you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Rev. Martha Rodriguez-Brasby

  30. Martha Rodriguez-Brasby says:

    I will say hi to Kerry. I’m so sorry that after 20 some odd years this is why we were able to connect but, everything happens for a reason. Please keep in touch, you can find me on f/b or through your blog as I will continue to read. They remind me of good times!
    You have much to be proud of! God Bless you and yours…always

  31. Moose says:

    Turk I am very sorry for your lost words can express how heart broken I feel for you and your family I have your son in my prayers God bless you! Moose Park Slope

  32. Brooklin says:

    “Get your own butter” lol!

  33. melly says:

    to tio and titi ,,,, i love you and we miss lex alot and will miss him you guys have to no that lex is now protecting our family and waching over us 24.7 and im spositive he wouldnt want us to be sad ….. just think and remeber all the gooooood times we had with lex ….. …. i love you sooo muchoo tio and titi ,, lex and dill …


  34. mergin sina says:


    I’m so sorry for your loss. My family will pray for you and hope you get through these tough times. As you know with all of the responses above there are alot of people that you have touched in your life. If there is anything I can do please don’t hesitate to contact me. You and the rest of the guys in the old neighborhood really looked out for me back in the day and I wanted to let you know that it meant alot. Turk, I wish the best for you and your family. Your friend always Mergin Sina.

  35. Matt Sloan says:


    I came across this story searching for you, my old friend. I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear of your loss. You and your family are in my prayers. I often think of the days in Dodge City so many years ago, Duffy’s etc…
    Again, my deepest sympathy to you and your family.

    Matt Sloan (Batman)

  36. TGumusdere says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words and sympathy.

    Yes this is the worst and the hardest tragedy a parent has to endure. The loss of our wonderful child has brought us down to our knees in pain. Not a second goes by that we dont think about our son Lex. He meant the world to us and in a split second he was gone leaving us with a void in our lives that can never be repaced. We dont know what lies ahead for us but Im certain whatever it is it will be filled with pain. No one, and I mean no one can relate to this pain and suffering unless they personally have experienced it and I pray to god that no one ever does.

    To all my friends from the old neighborhood, you guys “did good” and are a true testament to what a lifelong friend is really about. I love each and every one of you.

    In parting, we want all of you to cherish your loved ones and your friends like there was no tomorrow, to live your lives to the fullest by continuing to help one another, and to be true to yourselves.

    Thanking you again,
    The Gumusdere Family

  37. kimberly says:

    turk and wanda!
    you guys were such great parents and lex was an amazin kid.
    me and lex go way bak to wen i first moved here 5 yrs ago..
    i loved him so much and i confided in him with everything..
    he was my best friend…

    dylan stay strong i love u munchkin…

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