Remembering the “Gentle” Big Man: Lari Ketner

Lari and Bru

Lari Ketner and Bruiser Flint, Umass Basketball

Twenty years ago, Lari Ketner pumped in 20 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks to lead the Roman Catholic Cahillites to the Catholic League Championship in the historic Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The 1993-94 Roman Catholic team is widely regraded as one of Philadelphia’s most talented scholastic teams over the past twenty-five years. According to LaSalle University legend, Donnie Carr, “Lari was the best big man I ever played with.”

Ketner served as an anchor in the paint for Roman Catholic teams that featured Donnie Carr, Arthur “Yah” Davis, Eugene Small, Tamir Harbin, R.C. Kehoe, Ronnie Conway, Will McKnight, Chris McNesby and John Atkinson. The following year, Roman would reach the final again. This time, Roman would lose to Archbishop Carroll. That loss in the Championship game ended a streak of 20 consecutive playoff victories.

Lari would go on to play at UMass where he was recruited by John Calipari who left after Ketner sat out his freshman year. Playing for Bruiser Flint, Lari frequently displayed astonishing athleticism for man standing 6’10” and weighing 280 lbs. After three solid seasons, he was drafted into the NBA where he played for three teams in two seasons.

Lari & AquariusLari and Aquarius Ketner

Earlier this month, Lari passed away after a long battle with a rare form of colon cancer. His passing has deeply impacted his Philadelphia family members and friends. Donnie Carr remembers Lari as “A great person. He was ‘too nice’ at times. Lari was truly a gentle soul and above all else he was a great friend.”

A celebration of Lari Ketner’s life will be held on November 2, 2014. All of his Philadelphia family members, friends, teammates and the entire Philadelphia basketball community will pay their respect to the “gentle” Big Man.


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