Libertyville Mourns Passing of Jack Lipp

Jack Lipp was a star both on and off the basketball court

Jack Lipp was a star both on and off the basketball court

Kyle Laska, News Editor

Libertyville High School Class of 2014 graduate and former basketball star Jack Lipp passed away at the age of 19 this past December, on Christmas Day.

Lipp, a freshman  at the University of Missouri, was at a party early on the morning of Dec. 13 when he fell from a balcony. Lipp was in a medically-induced coma for over a week before passing, according to a Columbia police spokesperson.

A gifted athlete, Lipp played golf and basketball for all four years of his high school career. He excelled in both sports, as he earned multiple varsity honors in his four years of golf and basketball, and gained respect from teammates both on and off the court.

Senior Sam Kratzer was a teammate of Lipp last year on the LHS basketball team. Kratzer spoke of the character that Jack had.

“Jack was the kind of person that would make you laugh every time you saw him. He made the team so special last year. When you would hang out with him, you would have the best time no matter what was happening in your life,” expressed Kratzer.

Lipp truly had a vibrant personality. Often seen walking through the halls like he was on a Nike sponsorship deal, Lipp stood out in a crowd, which he enjoyed. Lipp had the special ability to own any situation he was put in and have fun with it. As imagined, this led to some great memories, memories like the one Johnny Vernasco, Class of 2014 and one of Lipp’s closest friends, will never forget.

“This past summer we went on a cruise with Jack [Lipp], Matt Reed, Justin Jost, Jeff Barton, and Steven Braun. We were at Atlantis on a slide that would time how long it took you to get down. We kept going up and down for two hours straight. One of the times up, we ran past Sean Payton (Head Coach of the New Orleans Saints), and Jack yelled at him that his 40-yard dash time was faster than any of his players. It was hilarious,” reminisced Vernasco.

Another one of Lipp’s best friends, Anthony Monken, also Class of 2014, found it hard to recall just one memory. Because of Lipp’s nature, everything was memorable, making it near impossible to pick out favorites, so Monken picked a few.

“One of my favorite memories with him was in 8th grade when we played on the Libertyville Tigers baseball team. We went to Omaha for a tournament, and Jack was always so slow, so we gave him the nickname ‘grandpa’ or ‘gramps.’ So we all pitched in and went to an antique shop down there and bought him a cane. It was one of those things that emphasized how our team was and how we all were as friends because he accepted it and would always walk around with it.

“Another one was when he made that backwards shot in AAU basketball in spring of 2013 and made it on to ESPN Top Ten (Lipp’s Game Winner). What a lot of people didn’t know is that the very next day he came back and drilled a half-courter to win the championship as time expired on the same exact court and basket. Him making that game-winner got us qualified to go to Orlando to play in Nationals over that summer. It was so fitting for Jack to do that because he always had a way of being the most dramatic kid around.

“He would just get touched when he tried to come off a screen in practice and somehow he would end up on the ground. As he fell he would scream “Ahhh my ankle!” Or “Ahhhhh my ACL!!” The amount we had to run because of his on court shenanigans was almost comical. We would go into practice just waiting to see what stunt he would pull or what he would say to make us run and as much as we hated running, we couldn’t be mad or upset because that was just typical Lipper. He would look to ‘Bogs’ (LHS Basketball Head Coach Scott Bogumil) to call a foul when we scrimmaged or had a team drill in practice and he would fall to the ground even when no one was near him and the very next thing we heard was ‘Everybody get on the line…’ But the entire time we ran we would all just look at each other and laugh. If anyone else did that we would have hated it or actually been mad, but because it was Jack, it was next to impossible to be upset by it,” shared Monken.

Lipp will always be remembered as a funny and outgoing kid who wanted to have a good time. However, he was also extremely kind and compassionate. Senior Matt Cordan, who teamed up with Lipp on the Libertyville golf team, spoke of just how great Lipp was to be around.

“Jack was a fun-loving kid who was always happy and friendly to everyone.  He always showed up to golf in a great mood and was fun to have as a partner on the team.  Jack didn’t have any enemies, everyone he knew enjoyed his presence. Everyone I have spoken with about him have only said good things and will always treasure the times they had with him. He has left an impact on his friends and family that will last a lifetime for all of them,” expressed Cordan.

Although life ended much too short for Lipp, his ability to leave such a large and looming legacy allows for his life to carry on through all who knew him. According to Vernasco, his personality is one that will live on because it was diverse.

“Jack was a goofball. He lit up the room as soon as he entered with his infectious smile and jokes and comments that made everyone laugh. However, he was also the most competitive person I’ve ever met. He carried an edge of swagger and cockiness on the court and refused to lose,” explained Vernasco.

As those who knew Lipp mourn over the enormous loss that comes with losing such a great person, the importance of highlighting the good times becomes more important. According to Monken, it may be hard to get through a time like this, but it must be done for Lipp.

“I think that through all of this, people will take away Jack’s constant and contagious smile. Everywhere he went that kid always had the biggest smile on his face. That is something that I know will always live on. He has taught so many people that in the hardest of times, all you can really do is smile. And I’m sure he is doing so right now as he looks down and sees how many people’s lives he has impacted and changed for the better. If there was one thing other than sports that Jack really knew, it was how to keep a smile on someone’s face. He could go on talking for hours and just go on these rants and the smile would never leave your face. It continually got to the point where my cheeks and face would hurt from smiling and laughing so hard but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop. He was the absolute funniest and happiest person I have ever seen and that is what everyone loved so much about him. A part of him stays here with all of us, just as a part of us goes up there with him. Smile through the pain. You can never hug someone too many times, you can never tell someone ‘I love you’ enough, and you can never spend too much time with anyone in your life. Rest in Paradise Jacko.”