When Chad Cooke started his basketball career, there was a lot about him that would cause him to be overlooked. He wasn’t the biggest, fastest, or strongest player on most courts that he stepped onto. But there was something about Chad that could not be overlooked. Chad had a passion for the game and he had a dream of playing Division I college basketball. He was determined to overcome any adversity that stood in his way.
After countless hours of working toward his goal, Chad entered his junior year of high school with high hopes of being recruited. However, adversity knocked on Chad’s door again in the form of a broken wrist. He didn’t give up on his dream, and when he returned to play, Chad’s heart and determination impressed Division II and III scouts. Chad wasn’t ready to settle for less than his dream though and passing up opportunities to start at smaller schools, he packed his bags and headed for Charleston, SC. He was determined to play Division I basketball for the College of Charleston.
Again, Chad faced adversity when he arrived in Charleston. Coaches and players told him he was too small for the big leagues. He kept pushing through and spent time again gaining weight, getting stronger, and improving his skills. Chad tried out as a walk-on and the decision came down to him and one other player. He continued to practice and show his heart and love for the game. Then came the phone call that made all of his hard work worth it. Chad was the newest member of the College of Charleston Division I men’s basketball team.
Being on the College of Charleston team not only fulfilled Chad’s lifelong dream and reignited his passion and love for the game but it also led him to another dream: true love. Chad met Emily his freshman year at the College of Charleston and two love stories began to unfold: his love story with Emily and the one he had with Jesus Christ.He began to see that there was much more to life than the game of basketball. Chad began to follow Christ with the same passion that he followed his original dream with so many years ago. He learned to love others deeply and intentionally. He realized that because his original dream led him to a spot on a Division I basketball team roster, he now had the opportunity to use his place to make a difference and to show others the love of Christ. Chad became actively involved in church, began to selflessly serve others, and learned how to love completely. Emily founded Charleston Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to serving inner-city communities, and Chad loved serving others with his love by his side.
Chad’s story faced one more chapter of adversity on December 23, 2014. At the age of 20, despite being in perfect health and very good shape, Chad collapsed while playing a pick-up game with his brother and friends.We have no medical answers as to why Chad left this world but we do know this: Chad passed away doing what he loved and he was called home by the God he loved. The Lord has used Chad’s story and lifestyle of intentionality to affect thousands across the globe. Shortly after Chad passed, those who love Chad most sat around sharing stories about Chad and the way he loved others with such intention. Emily’s father dubbed the positive effect he had on everyone he met “The Chad Effect”. Charleston Hope has since then started a new movement: #chadeffect, to promote intentional living and loving relationships with others.