Tournament to honor late Curtis Cotton Jr. of Rangeview


AURORA | One of Rangeview High School’s most colorful basketball players will be remembered with a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on Aug. 11.

Former star guard Curtis Cotton Jr. — affectionately known to friends and family as “Chilli” — died at the age of 23 from injuries suffered in a May 7, 2010, single-car accident on Interstate 225 near East Iliff Avenue in Denver.

A jersey and picture adorn a table at a memorial service honoring the late Rangeview basketball player Curtis Cotton on May 29, 2010, at Rangeview High School. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Just over two years later, Cotton’s parents and Rangeview boys coach Shawn Palmer are organizing a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Cotton Jr.’s honor intended to raise money for kids in Aurora. The tournament is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 11 at Rangeview High School, 17599 E. Iliff Ave., with openings for boys and girls teams in 9-12, 13-17 and 18-23 age groups.

Registration by Aug. 4 is $40 per team and goes up to $50 from then through Aug. 8. Every player receives a prize and a free throw contest is planned for kids 13 and under.

“Curtis always talked about how he was pretty fortunate and he wanted to do something for the unfortunate,” said Cotton’s father, Curtis Cotton Sr. “We want to keep his name going and give back to the Aurora community for supporting him.”

Cotton Sr. said creating a scholarship in his son’s name was the initial idea, but now the funds may go to help Aurora children in need of things such as school supplies.

With 1,036 points scored for Rangeview from 2000-04 — under coaches Terry Taylor Sr. and Palmer — Cotton Jr. still ranks fourth on the program’s all-time scoring list, trailing only Terry Taylor Jr. (1,181 from 1983-85), Lars VanEtten (1,164 from 1986-89) and Marvin Jones (1,057 from 1991-94).

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 25.2 points per game for the Raiders as a senior in the 2003-04 season, in which he made the starting five of the Aurora Sentinel’s All-City Boys Basketball Team and also played in The Show All-Star Game at Pepsi Center as part of the top 20 players in the state.

Cotton went on to play two years at Western Nebraska and one at New Mexico Highlands. He had been accepted into Johnson & Wales University in Denver.

According to a police report, Cotton died from head wounds suffered when the Chevrolet Monte Carlo he was riding in swerved out of a southbound lane of I-225 and collided with a concrete barrier on the west side of the interstate. Cotton and the driver of the car, who survived and was treated for injuries at an area hospital, were not wearing seatbelts according to the police report.

Cotton was buried in Omaha, Neb., and Rangeview hosted a well-attended memorial service three weeks after Cotton’s death.

Another memorial 3-on-3 basketball tournament took place in Aurora on July 7, as 36 teams turned out to help raise funds for a scholarship in honor of late Regis Jesuit guard R.J. Demps. Demps, 20, also died in a car accident, this one on Dec. 21, 2011, as he and a teammate headed to the airport to fly home for winter break.

Tournament organizers said around $4,300 was raised for tuition assistance at Regis Jesuit in Demps’ name.


Registration: Call Curtis Cotton Sr. at 720-278-0144 or stop by the athletic office at Rangeview High School, 17599 E. Iliff Ave.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555