'Just a normal everyday kid': Coby White leaves for Chicago, keeps NC close to his heart

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Coby White has been a member of the Goldsboro Family YMCA since he was 6 years old.

"When he hit high school, he used to go to school, work out there and then come here in the evenings," said Bonita White, Coby White's mother. "I would say, 'but, didn't you workout before you left school?' He would say 'yes, yes but the ball never stops.' So we didn't question when he said I need a ride to the Y."

"He just was a normal everyday kid coming to do his thing," said Kriquette Davis, the vice president of operations at the Goldsboro Family YMCA. "You could tell how much he loved it though. He never missed. When you would come to the gym he was always here."

It's that dedication that led White to be selected 7th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls.

"It was beautiful," his mother said. "It was beautiful because he had, you know you think about all that he has gone through--all the work he has put in--and it has now come to fruition because his dream has come true."

"She's been through so much in her life," Coby White said. "I'm just trying to repay her for all that she's sacrificed for me."

Coby's mom wasn't the only one to help him get to this point. His late father Donald was by his side every step of the way until August of 2017 when he passed away from cancer. Coby honored his father at the draft with the letters "FMF" (for my father) printed inside his suit coat, as well as a picture of his dad.

"What he would give to watch me walk across the stage--that's when I started thinking about him," Coby said.

"The only bittersweet thing was that his dad wasn't here," Bonita said. "I tell him every day his dad sees all--he knows exactly--he probably knows before we do what's going to happen. I said...so, he's always with you."

Not just on draft night but throughout this whole journey, Bonita White said it's been hard without her husband, Coby's father, by their sides.

"There's a lot that goes on," she said. "At every home game at Carolina I was there, rain, hail, sleet, snow...I got there. I made that promise to him when he first went. He struggled a little bit when he first got there and I asked him one night after a game I said, 'Are you missing your dad?' and of course he said 'no'...but he was...and I told him I said, 'he's always with you wherever you are and every time you play in this arena I will be here.' I did not miss one game."

Bonita kept her promise and said her support along with the Carolina family helped Coby to flourish.

"Through it all," she said. "The fact that he knew his dad was there and the fact that Coach Williams and the other staff along with his teammates were just phenomenal...you have to think that this was a road that was already planned."

Coby went on to break Michael Jordan's freshman scoring record at Carolina, and now, just like 35 years ago, the Bulls recognize the potential of a Tar Heel.

"I have no doubt that he will continue his same work ethic going forward," Bonita said. "He will be one of the best. I have no doubt at all."
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