The Sunday before the Class 4A sectional semifinal against Evanston at Waukegan, Loyola head coach Tom Livatino invited the Ramblers to his house for pizza and a movie.
They watched “Survive and Advance,” a documentary about the North Carolina State men’s basketball team that won the 1983 NCAA title.
Once the movie ended, almost everybody went home.
But not senior Ramar Evans. He stuck around to play with Livatino’s three young children.
“To them, Ramar is bigger than life,” Livatino said. “Even though he’s busy and maybe tired, he always makes time for them. That tells you a lot about him as a person.”
Evans, the team’s captain, is known in the Loyola community as much for his basketball talent as he is for his high character.
From coaches to teammates to administrators to teachers to school staff, Evans is considered a class act. He’s someone concerned with doing the right thing, on and off the court.
“He’s the poster child for what we want from a player in our program,” Livatino said. “He really cares about others. You don’t find that too often with kids, and that’s why he’s so special. He’s a person I know I will know for the rest of my life. He will turn into a good friend of mine.”
Ramar Evans’ parents beamed when asked what makes them most proud of their son. Rosalyn Spraggins and Ramar Evans both said their son understood from a young age that basketball took a backseat to everything else.
“I didn’t have to teach him what was important in life,” the elder Ramar Evans said. “It was instinctual with him. He knew what to do.”
Added Spraggins: “He’s just a good kid. Never any issues, never any problems. He knew the things he had to focus on first. He’s done very well balancing everything.”
Whenever the younger Evans hears people talking about him, he said he uses the words as motivation “to continue to do what I am doing.”
“It feels good and is humbling, and it makes me want to do the right thing,” he said.
Individual accomplishments didn’t consume Evans throughout his three-year varsity career. He was more interested in the team having success. This season, the Ramblers (22-9) finished second in the Catholic North and took third at the conference tournament. But nothing compared to Loyola capturing a regional championship, Evans said.
“My biggest fear or nightmare was leaving Loyola without one,” he said. “That was the best. It was for me, my teammates, my coaches. That was the piece that was missing.”
Nonetheless, Evans, a 6-foot-2 guard, put up enviable numbers as a senior. He finished first on the Ramblers in points (13.4), rebounds (5.9), assists (3.8), steals (1.6) and deflections (4.5). Evans was selected to the all-Catholic League team, saved for the best six players in the 18-team conference. He also was named MVP as Loyola won its holiday tournament in Naples, Florida.
Evans ended his career sixth on the all-time scoring list with 1,044 points.
“He had so many big moments of rising up when the game was on the line,” said elder Evans, who played basketball at Whitney Young. “But his biggest moment was that regional title. He was so disappointed he didn’t win one as a sophomore or junior. He wanted to win one with his friends. That was a big deal to him.”
Basketball was never forced upon Evans his mom said, but it assisted him in earning a scholarship to Maryville University, an NCAA Division II program in St. Louis. Evans said he’s looking into studying something in the medical field that is related to sports.
Whatever he chooses to do with his life, it’s a good bet Evans will stand out among the crowd.
“He’s always been on the right path,” his dad said. “He will be successful in anything he does.”
Loyola’s principal Kathryn Baal was among those who cheered for Evans while he wore the Ramblers basketball uniform. As good as he was as an athlete, she said Evans will be remembered most for his generosity of spirit.
“By quietly showing love to others, Ramar has been able to positively influence his peers,” Baal said. “When you take the time to really get to know him, it is his calm, caring and loving heart that makes him stand out as a Rambler.”
Photo credit: Melissa Krein/Loyola