Hurricane another gut punch for former ISU player

Tribune-Star file/Joseph C. Garza

Calling the play: Former Terre Haute South High School girls basketball coach Richie Adderley guides his team during a 2018 game.

Richie Adderley has had some bad luck in his life and the last six months have been especially rough.

Threats from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the spring forced him to leave his jobs as program manager of addiction services at Hamilton Center and high school girls basketball coach at Terre Haute South and return to his birthplace — Freeport, Bahamas — where he was living with his older sister and other relatives.

Until Hurricane Dorian passed through recently, that is.

“Without the hurricane, it was difficult [for Adderley],” said Terre Haute realtor — and one of Adderley’s former bosses — Cathy Baker this week. “With the hurricane, it’s been horrible.”

A group of friends including Baker, Hamilton Center CEO Mel Burks, National Basketball Association referee Nate Green and Amy Rowan of the ISU Credit Union, are trying to help out any way they can.

“He’s a diabetic,” Baker explained. “He has enough insulin to last until the end of the month.

“There was four feet of water in their house. They lost their clothing, their food . . . they were prepared for the storm, but they didn’t expect it to be this bad.”

Adderly left the Bahamas in the fall of 1986 to enroll at ISU, where he played basketball for coach Ron Greene. A former high school teammate of NBA player and actor Rick Fox, Adderley became a fan favorite for his speed and aggressive style of play. But his bad luck was about to start.

In the spring of 1987, Baker said, Adderley had arthroscopic surgery to fix a knee injury and nearly died on the operating table. The heart and respiratory problems he experienced there were later attributed to a diagnosis of myasthenia gravis — Baker believes that Adderley’s mother, who died when he was a baby, may have had the same ailment — and there were several years of intermittent hospital visits.

And during that time, with Adderley sometimes fighting for his life, a mistake was made and a deadline possibly missed on his immigration papers.

For several years, that wasn’t a problem. Adderley worked for Baker with Indiana State’s 21st Century Scholars and other programs, and was able to get annual one-year work permits without any difficulty.

Until 18 years ago today. Sept. 11, 2001.

From that point on, work permits became harder and harder to get. Discussions with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sometimes dragged out for days at a time. And finally last year, Adderley couldn’t get one at all and was told that ICE would be coming for him.

“He had to be out of the country by March 31,” Baker recalled.

Although there are very few goods to purchase in the Bahamas, Adderley’s friends are doing whatever they can. A lot of former basketball players are already rallying around the cause, Baker said.

Anyone else interested in helping out is invited to contact Baker at 812-249-3131, she said. They can also reach Rowan — her husband, former Northview star Kenny Rowan, became an ISU player right after Adderley’s career ended — at the ISU Credit Union.

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