OPRF forward Ross counts plenty of family support
Oak Park, 1/18/13--An injured Thomas Ross, (pink tie), of Oak Park-River Forest watches from the bench as Alex Gustafson, hits athree-pointer for the Huskies in their game against York. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
Saturday Boys basketball: vs. Hinsdale Central, 6 p.m.
Boys basketball: vs. Hinsdale Central, 6 p.m.
Tuesday Girls gymnastics: Glenbard West regional, 6:30 p.m.
Girls gymnastics: Glenbard West regional, 6:30 p.m.
Updated: February 25, 2013 11:31AM
OAK PARK — When Oak Park-River Forest’s Thomas Ross wants to find a pickup basketball game, he does not have to look very far.
The senior forward is from a family that has 14 siblings, so all he has to do is organize a game with his brothers and sisters. He is the third oldest of eight boys and six girls.
“We get a whole five-on-five, or we can get five (siblings) and run against another team,” said Ross. “It is really nice, because my younger siblings, they are so well matured as far as basketball. So they play every game like it is an actual game, which is good, because when they come into high school, it will be a good experience for them.”
The Ross family lives in Oak Park, and does not have to travel far to find a game.
“We stay right around the corner from Longfellow Park, on Ridgeland and Adams, so we just go over there and ball out until the sun goes down,” Ross said. “We go up there from the time they put (rims) up until the time they take them down.”
Ross also does not have to look far to find a family member when he is walking the halls of OPRF: Three siblings currently go there. His brother Gary is a freshman, his sister Rachel is a sophomore and another sister Keishay is a junior.
As one can imagine, you do not want to be late to the table for meals.
“Because everybody can eat in my house,” said Ross, whose favorite food is chicken. “Everybody can put it away in my house from the youngest, the newborn, to the eldest, they can eat. If something is cooked, you have to get it and get it now, because it might not be there five minutes after.”
Ross’s oldest sister is 22 years old, and the youngest member of the family was a baby boy born in November.
He has been playing on the varsity since he was a sophomore, when OPRF coach Matt Maloney gave him a choice to stay with his classmates or move up and play limited minutes. He decided to sit and learn.
“He said as long as I am ready for my senior year, I trust you,” said Maloney. “He is that type of kid. We have had other kids that would say no, I would rather play down if I am not going to get major minutes.
“It is so interesting, obviously he is very giving. When you have 14 siblings, you have to share a lot of the responsibility. But he has never once used that as an excuse to be down, or frustrated or be out of it. He never says anything about having to do extra chores, baby-sit, or balance school with his family and with basketball. There is none of that, he is a special kid.”
When the Huskies dropped a 63-52 decision to York Friday, Ross was unable to play after injuring his heel in practice during the week. It was disappointing, because he played his best game of the season recently in a 56-48 victory over Glenbard West.
“He was everywhere, he changed everything that Glenbard West did,” Maloney said.