LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - At 6' 4", Kerry Benson would stand out, regardless.
"He is the child that every parent would want," said Kelly Benson, Kerry's mother.
"I'm the older brother and I even looked up to my younger brother because he accomplished so much so quick," said Kameron Smith.
"He would go out of his way for anybody," said Karmen Benson, Kerry's sister. "One of us needed a ride or borrow $10, he was there."
For Dale Mabry, the Pleasure Ridge Park High School basketball coach, the words "larger than life" doesn't even come close.
"Not many basketball players come through and been on the varsity all four years," Mabry said. "Just 'Cool Hand Luke.' Nothing affected him."
"People would dream to play ball for UK," Smith said. "And my brother actually did that."
Mabry said Benson joined then-coach Billy Gillispie's Wildcats as a preferred walk-on in 2007, his freshman yea. Benson's stats show he played 23 minutes and in two games, scoring a 3-pointer when Kentucky played Central Arkansas on November 6, 2007. Benson would leave the team three weeks later because his priorities changed.
"He just graduated with his Bachelor's from UofL in December, "Karmen Benson said. "He was going to get his Master's. He was working two jobs."
His mother said Kerry was going to be a physical therapist. That journey ended just after 10 p.m. on March 3. Benson and his friend, Germina Cruz, a dancer for Louisville's professional indoor football team, the Kentucky Xtreme, died when his car spun out of control on an icy Taylorsville Road near Dutchmans Lane and Betty Lane. Benson's car hit a utility pole.
The Xtreme issued a news release offering prayers to Cruz' family.
"The entire Xtreme family not only will miss Germina for her great talents on the field, but for the work she did for the team in her community, and for her kind, caring and outgoing personality."
Benson's high school friend, Dominique Owens, survived the crash. He was listed in fair condition at the University of Louisville Hospital Tuesday afternoon.
"It's just hard to take," Smith said. "It's hard to believe."
Reality would bring Benson's family to tears when they viewed his portrait which still hangs above the doors into PRP's gymnasium. Mabry noted the 34 points his former player scored in the team's Panther Classic during his senior year. But Benson's legacy is far more than baskets and blocked shots.
"He'll leave behind hope for people that want to excel," his mother said.
"Everything he wanted to do, he went for and got it done," Smith said.
"When you come to school every day with a smile on your face, when you can make your teachers, your lunchroom staff , your office staff have great days just by being in your presence, he just had a special quality about him," Mabry said.
"There's an empty spot in my heart right now, because he was one of the best."
The investigation remains open, but Louisville Metro Police and family members say black ice likely is to blame.
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