The late Bill Lovett (top) star guard and leading scorer on East Orange High School’s 1964 basketball team would have been so proud to play for his son Billy Lovett (below) who successfully coached the East Orange men’s varsity for the past three seasons
Billy Lovett is talented personable and smart. He is also a veteran of big time college basketball at Fordham and the beneficiary of the tutelage of legendary high school hoops coach, Bob Hurley, Sr. at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, NJ.
Mr. Lovett brought those considerable credentials to his native city to take the coaching the reins of the once proud–but lately floundering–basketball program at East Orange Campus High School.
He also brought the estimable legacy of his father, Bill Lovett, a tough, quick, smart and very accurate shooting guard who graduated East Orange High in 1964.The elder Mr. Lovett, who died in 2002, would have been so very proud of his son.
With the same talent that went 2-18 the year before he arrived, Billy Lovett transformed the Jaguars into a winning team that won league championships and contended for county and state titles.
More importantly, his teams performed meaningful community service, and his players hit the books as well as the hardwood.
Team members found their way onto academic honor rolls, into the National Honor Society and onto college campuses ready to compete in the classroom as well as on the court.
Mr. Lovett took an active interest in his players’ welfare. He invited one young man, who had no other place to live, to stay with him and his family. In so doing he saved the student from the street and showed him what a cohesive, loving family looks like. But this act of (perhaps life-saving) compassion violated some inane regulation, and Mr. Lovett was suspended for several games. The incident and the politics that went with it left a sour taste, so after three remarkable campaigns Billy Lovett will move on.
Lovett’s leaving will be East Orange’s loss. But with his talent and commitment there will be, no doubt, other opportunities for Billy Lovett to teach basketball and, more importantly, to touch lives.