Fallen Teammate Drives Team’s Passion.

SPOKANE — For many players, Hoopfest is about the having fun and winning, but for one team it means much more than that.

This chair next to Garett Sawyer sits empty this year at Hoopfest, that’s because two months ago his former teammate Tanner Homminga passed away.

“Tanner was diagnosed with a brain tumor and at a soccer game it exploded, he had two strokes and died in April,” said Homminga family friend, Karen Sawyer.

Tanner had played in Hoopfest since he was seven years old and it always showed on court.

“He was small but he would play so hard,” said Kevin Kelly, one of Tanner’s friends.

Tanner’s friends say that he was a real competitor with a champion’s heart.

“He never wanted to lose and if he lost he wouldn’t be happy,” said Garrett Sawyer.

Tanner may have wanted to win but with his passing has taught his friends and family more about life.

“He brought everyone together and made us realize what’s important that’s our family and friends,” said Karen.

And in memory of Tanner, for every Hoopfest from here on out, every game will start the same way.

“We, at least I, pray in memory of tanner,” said friend Martice Moorison. “I pray in remembrance of him.”

Tanner’s friends are only 14, but they held themselves well for what has happened. They will always be playing and winning for a reason.