One of the greatest honors in sports is to hang a player’s jersey in the rafters. it means that the team you played for considers you an all-time great.
So count Alex Lomax as one of the all-time greats to ever play at East High School. Lomax’s jersey was retired at halftime of the Regional game when the Mustangs played Bolton.
“This one of the biggest moments in my life,” Lomax said of the retirement ceremony.
Lomax played four years at East and went to four straight State tournaments. He won three straight state championships. In his senior year, Lomax averaged 15 points and eight assists per game. He was the two-time Mr. Basketball for Class AAA in the State of Tennessee. He led his team to the No. 1 ranking in high school basketball.
Now, of course, Lomax slips on a Memphis Tiger jersey and plays for his former East Coach and longtime mentor Penny Hardaway. But just a year removed from high school, he said he felt odd being back in the old gym.
“It is a little weird,” Lomax said. “I am here to cheer on my little brothers coming out and they are going to play as hard as they can. I am here to cheer them on.”
One sign of a player’s greatness is who comes to support you. While East fans were confident they’d get the win, they turned up in droves to support Lomax. Local media covered the event and even U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen was spotted.
Lomax has been to many games to see his old school play this season. He has cheered them on and picked them up when they needed to be lifted. During a recent Tigers road trip against Cincinnati, Lomax chatted via video with his former team to give them words of encouragement in the Regional Finals.
Lomax never imagined he would have the opportunity to have his jersey retired. He grew up with no expectations of reaching all of the levels he has done so far in his career. Lomax gives all the credit to his mom, dad, former coach Hardaway and the rest of his family.
East coach Jevonte Holmes told Lomax at the start of the season that they were going to retire his jersey. Lomax wanted to wait until later in the season for the ceremony. He wanted to wait until the last game of the season, because it would be a very important game.
“When they first told me I did not know what to do. It just felt surreal,” Lomax said. “That was one of the best moments I had in my life.”
Lomax, who is averaging five points and three assists per game for the Tigers, did not envision his jersey being retired at East. Who knows . . . if he is able to reach the same level of success at the University of Memphis, this may not be the last time his jersey is retired.