The difficult childhood never stopped Bamforth

Scott Bamforth dribbles down the court as Anthony Mathis, left, closes in as New Mexico alumni team The Enchantment practice at The Pit on Saturday in preparation for the 2022 TBT Men’s Tournament.
Chancey Bush/Diary

Catching their breaths and resting after a two-hour practice in the pit on Saturday afternoon, former Lobo basketball players from different eras were talking their trash and telling stories when the subject of the only non-Lobo playing for “The Enchantment ” in Monday’s TBT basketball tournament came.

About 30 feet away, Scott Bamforth, 32, a graduate of Del Norte High, was making free throws as they talked.

While former Lobos like Drew Gordon, Anthony Mathis and Roman Martinez have been on posters and doing radio interviews trying to drum up excitement for this eight-team region in the $1M basketball tournament. dollars, Bamforth is barely mentioned despite being the only player on the list who is actually from New Mexico.

“Oh, they’re gonna know now,” said Cleveland “Pancake” Thomas, a Lobo in 2012-14.

“If you’re a hoop, you already know who he is,” added Dairese Gary, the Lobos’ starting point guard from 2007-2011.

Being overlooked in his own backyard is nothing new for Bamforth, who, despite being a former New Mexico High School Player of the Year, has never even received a draft from the Lobos, the State of New Mexico or any other Division I program for that matter. .

Instead, he paid his own way through a junior college in Nebraska before eventually becoming the starting guard alongside NBA star, and still one of his best friends, Damian Lillard at Weber State. Since then, Bamforth has gone on to pursue one of the most accomplished professional basketball careers of all time for a New Mexico-born player.

That he graduated from high school, not to mention success at the highest level in Spain, Italy and France, is remarkable in itself.

“When I was 12, my father passed away – a heart attack in his sleep,” Bamforth explained. “Then my mother fell very ill. She had liver problems and I was a freshman or sophomore in high school – about 14 and she was really sick so I was home all the time trying to take care of her when she was bedridden. I haven’t really left the house. I had to help him.

Between helping his mom, playing basketball at Del Norte, and doing his homework, something had to give. It was the latter.

“I pretty much stopped going to school,” Bamforth said. “It was taking care of my mum and going to training and that was about it.”

Eventually her mother became so ill that she moved to Hatch with her mother as Bamforth attempted to navigate school alone. She died in December, and he lived alone for much of the remainder of that second year at school.

“My coach, Gerome Espinoza, understood and said you can’t do this,” Bamforth said. “They won’t let you play basketball if you just show up for practice but not school.”

Eventually, Bamforth moved in with a family friend – Marianne Baca, who he says is like an “angel” to him.

Bamforth said: “She was the one who really believed in me first. She said I want you to be special. You can be a good basketball player. Come live with me.”

Baca and Espinoza gave Bamforth the structure needed to complete high school. Along the way, sneaking into a sports and wellness center in northeast Albuquerque and sleeping on mats near the gym, he met a man who became his best friend and his basketball mentor to date: Lamar Morinia, a Manzano High graduate about 9 years from Bamforth’s alum who played professionally overseas for about a decade after a college career at the state of Montana.

Bamforth credits Baca, Espinoza and Morinia – who didn’t know each other at first – for guiding him through those difficult teenage years. But basketball, he says, remained the constant. Espinoza “became like a father figure to me,” Bamforth said.

“One thing that I always remember and that stuck with me was when he said to me that for those two or three hours or whatever I spend on a basketball court every day, do- in my time. Use it to clear my mind. Use it to be free. Use it to take away all my pain and everything I’m going through. From then on, that’s what I did.

Weber State guard Scott Bamforth (4) and guard Jordan Richardson celebrate at the end of a 69-63 win over Portland State in a Big Sky Tournament NCAA college basketball game in Missoula, Montana , March 6, 2012.
Michael Albans/Associated Press

At college, Bamforth, he won all-region honors in his only season (he spent another year in a redshirt). He then played alongside Lillard at Weber State in one of that program’s best seasons, and his name lives on all over their record books, while starting his own family around the same time. He has three sons – Kingston, 10; Jaxzton, 8; and Bryzton, 4.

Once overseas, he always played in a country’s top professional league, teaming up with current NBA stars like Kristaps Prozingas, Willy Hernangomez and Tomas Satoransky. He trains regularly in the offseason with Lillard and now helps coach his son’s youth league teams.

As for TBT, he’s played there before, scoring 27 points in a loss to a Weber State alumni team.

“I’m just happy to represent my home country,” Bamforth said. “I know I’m not a Lobo, but they’re still my boys. I love playing basketball with them and can’t wait to play in front of the Albuquerque fans again.

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