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‘One of his great loves’: Beach Ball Classic pays tribute to late mayor who helped build tournament

A message board was set up for people to sign and share messages for the family of the late...
A message board was set up for people to sign and share messages for the family of the late John Rhodes.(Source: WMBF News)
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 4:34 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – For the first year, one familiar face won’t be at the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach.

Former Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes lost his battle earlier this year to COVID-19. He helped bring many things to the Grand Strand community, but the Beach Ball Classic held a special place in his heart.

“Beach Ball Classic was one of his great love’s which really does follow the theme throughout John’s life, which is making a better world for the youth in this community. Beach Ball Classic is a court where dreams can come true and all things are possible,” said Rhodes’ wife, Terri Springs.

The Beach Ball Classic is known for helping high school athletes from across the country reach their aspirations and basketball goals. It was started in 1981 by former Socastee High School Coach Dan D’Antoni, and Rhodes had served as the executive director for the tournament’s committee since 1982.

A memorial has been set up at the tournament at the table where Rhodes sat during the annual event.

“It tugs at my heart. For every beach-ball John and I sat here together. We were side by side every year,” said Springs.

“Normally he’d be sitting at this table, talking on his phone, having some nachos, talking to coaches. Lots of good memories, just excited to celebrate him tonight,” added Chad Smith with the Beach Ball Classic Executive Committee.

There are other additions to the tournament to honor the man who helped build it.

Rhodes’ initials are on the basketball court and goals. There is also a board with his picture on it near the court for people to sign and share messages for his family.

“He loved the kids, he was a big kid at heart. Bringing kids in that maybe didn’t have a chance to go to college, getting them some exposure here,” said Smith.

On Tuesday night, the Beach Ball Classic Committee will hold a short ceremony to honor Rhodes, where his loved ones will gather to memorialize and remember him.

“This is very selfish-I don’t think he could ever be honored enough for what he did for this community and the love he had for this community, and the love he had for Myrtle Beach. All he wanted to do was make it better,” Springs said.

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