Former UAB basketball star and Birmingham Alabama native Torrey Ward was one of seven people killed in a plane crash late Monday night. The incident happened in Bloomington Illinois, as Ward and other constituents were in route back to the Illinois State University campus after attending the National Championship game between Duke and Wisconsin in Indianapolis. Among the other six casualties was Illinois State University Deputy Athletic-Director, Aaron Leetch.
Ward, was associate head coach for Illinois State’s men’s basketball team. He had been promoted to that post just last season, and has been on the Redbirds staff since 2012. As mentioned, Ward was a native of Birmingham Alabama where he played his college ball for the hometown UAB Blazers from 1996-2000. He then played pro ball in China next to the likes of NBA star, Yao Ming. After a stint there, he got into coaching where he has been on staffs from Ole Miss to Jacksonville State, before finally coming to Illinois State. The crash occurred only minutes from the airport, and Illinois State campus in Bloomington. Ward, was highly respected in the coaching ranks, and looked at as a coach on the rise.
Leetch, who came back to Illinois State in June 2013, was in charge of athletics communications and video productions, and had a major role in it’s football, men’s basketball, golf, and baseball programs. Illinois State Athletic-Director Larry Lyons called Leetch “A shining star in the business”. Lyons called Ward a “talented coach and recruiter” He had a big personality and was loved by the fans.
Ward, received his degree from UAB in 2001 after attending and starring in basketball at Phillips High School in Birmingham. He is survived by his Mother and two young kids. He was 36.