By Ray Hamill — A short documentary celebrating the life of local basketball legend Gene “Geno” Cotter will debut with a special online viewing party on Saturday morning.
Cotter, a Southern Humboldt native who founded Basketball Jones Hoops Camps, tragically died in a car accident in 2016.
But his legacy and love for the game of basketball lives on through the camps, which are as popular as ever, as well as the Live Like Geno Foundation.
The 30-minute documentary will air for the first time through a zoom meeting at 11 a.m. and anyone interested in joining the online party can register here.
“This private premiere is a momentous occasion for us,” the foundation said in a press release. “It’s the first time we’re bringing to screen the essence of Gene’s spirit and the values he lived by.”
The date and time (11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year) was chosen in honor of the No. 11 Gene wore while playing for the South Fork Cubs back in the early 90s.
“He always had a ball in his hands, and he could do anything with the ball in his hands,” said Benito Comma, who played with Cotter in high school and serves on the board of the Live Like Geno Foundation.
In 1996, Cotter founded the Basketball Jones Hoops Camps as a way to encourage young players to play the game with the same passion and spirit in which he became well known for playing.
According to Comma, Geno played with “a little bit of flashiness and a little bit of showmanship.”
The online viewing party will include a short intro from some of the Live Like Geno Foundation board members before the screening of the documentary, which took two years to put together.
“We’ve poured our hearts into capturing the narrative that is as inspiring as the man it honors,” the press release said. “This film is more than just a project; it’s a visual testament to Gene’s lasting impact on our community.”
Comma admitted he “balled the whole time” when he first saw the documentary, which he describes as an emotional tribute to Cotter.
“It encapsulates Geno so people involved can see who he was and why he made such a big impact on people,” he said. “He made a huge imprint on so many people.”
The online screening event has a maximum capacity of 100 participants and the documentary will also be available to view online after Saturday.
For more information, anyone interested can email the foundation at email@example.com.
“Let’s fill the virtual room with the same camaraderie and cheer that Gene championed throughout his life,” the press release said. “Your presence means more than just numbers to us — it’s the energy, the support, and the collective love that fuels the Live Like Geno Foundation mission.”
According to the foundation, the mission is “to inspire Passion, Purpose and Positivity in honor of Geno by creating positive impact in the lives of economically challenged youth through development programs that personify his love of basketball, his commitment to community enrichment, and his authentic approach to living life in the service of others.”
Cotter’s Basketball Jones Camps are held several times annually throughout Humboldt County and beyond, and they continue to be some of the most popular camps in the area.
Cotter first got the idea for the “alternative” camps while traveling up and down the coast to attend camps himself as a player.
“He took a little bit of everything he saw at these camps and he enhanced it,” said Comma, who traveled with Cotter to several camps. “Once you have a love for something, it’s pretty powerful.
“Our main goal, our philosophy, is getting the love for the game. That’s what Geno wanted.”