AP File PhotoTierra Rogers can’t play for Cal because of a heart condition

AP File PhotoTierra Rogers can’t play for Cal because of a heart condition

Cal basketball star Tierra Rogers is making a difference off court

Terrell “Terray” Rogers devoted himself to helping people in need. After a turbulent childhood, he co-founded Peacekeepers, a nonprofit crisis intervention group, so he could teach young people how to avoid the mistakes that he made while growing up.  

The five-year anniversary of Rogers’ murder outside of a high school basketball game at Sacred Heart Cathedral is fast approaching, but the spirit of his mission carries on. It lives within his daughter, Tierra Rogers.

Rogers coped with the loss of her father through basketball, and then the joy of playing the game was taken away, too, when she was diagnosed with a rare heart condition — arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, a common source of a cardiac arrest in athletes. But as Rogers approaches her final semester at Cal, she is discovering that she inherited her father’s gift for mentorship and it might actually exceed her skills on the hardwood.

“Using my voice to help other people and inspire people is something I’d love to do,” Rogers said. “And it’s something my dad did. It’s something I never thought I’d do, but it just happened that way.”

Like most college seniors, Rogers, a former top recruit, is still deciding what to do with her future. She would like to travel, she might write a book, but she’s certain that she wants to remain in sports in some capacity, possibly as a coach.

The African-American studies major said coaching combines two passions: athletics and helping
others.

“Sports have changed my life, so I definitely want to stay in it,” Rogers said. “It’s definitely a positive resource.”

Rogers received a scholarship to play basketball at Cal after a decorated high school career at Sacred Heart Cathedral. But she was forced to retire after a defibrillator was implanted into her heart in October 2009, weeks before she was scheduled to play her first college game. She stayed with the team as a student assistant and assumes the roles of coach, inspirational leader and confidant.

“Her role now is to give to others,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “As much as I know she’d be helping us on the court, she can’t step on the court and play. But she’s as valuable a Cal basketball [team member] as anyone we’ve ever had — and I mean that earnestly.”

Senior guard Eliza Pierre said Rogers is a disarming voice who provides insight and criticism without being harsh. She’s also the person many of them turn to when they’re dealing with issues off the court.

Last year, Pierre’s brother was murdered and Rogers guided her through the grieving process. In August, Rogers cut her summer vacation short to be with Pierre on the one-year anniversary of the
tragedy.

“Just to have someone just there,” Pierre said. “I was out here by myself. I’m from SoCal. I think she understood that.”   

The Bears (9-1) are off to their best start in 20 years and are ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Pierre said the team is driven to send Rogers off with a season to remember.

“We have someone who has been the top player, top recruit, but she cannot play,” she said. “That has been our reality — we have this chance, let’s make the best of it. If we’re not doing for ourselves, let’s do it for Tierra.”

collegePaul Gacklesports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

A former inmate and a sheriff’s deputy are among the first four members chosen to serve on the newly created Sheriff’s Department Oversight Board. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Years after fight club scandal, Sheriff’s oversight board takes shape

‘We want to promote law enforcement best practices’

More than a thousand people gathered in front of the California Capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order and demand that the state re-open on May 1, 2020. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters)
Newsom blames ‘right-wing pundits’ for COVID surge

By Emily Hoeven CalMatters Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday placed the blame… Continue reading

Strong California revenues will allow the state to commit to offering no-cost food to every student. (Amanda Mills/Pixnio)
How California plans to offer free daily meals to 6 million public school students

By Ali Tadayon EdSource With one in every six children facing hunger… Continue reading

Most Read