NORMAN — Morgan Hook remembers the moment two years ago when she felt like she really knew Sharane Campbell.
Then a freshman Oklahoma basketball player, Campbell was running around managing everything at her nephew’s funeral.
“She just ran the funeral basically,” Hook said. “That’s when we realized who Sharane Campbell was.”
The junior guard is known for her basketball skills. She was on The Oklahoman’s Super 5 team after her senior year at Star Spencer, and is averaging 12.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season for the Sooners, who open Big 12 Tournament play Saturday night against Texas inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
But truly understanding Campbell and what drives her begins and ends with the tragic loss of her 5-month-old nephew Kuron, who died two years ago of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
“Not even just in basketball,” Campbell said. “I’m just always trying to let everybody know that it happens.”
SIDS is one of the leading causes of death for infants, and is largely impossible to predict or see coming.
That is why the months following Kuron’s sudden death, the Campbell family found it difficult to wrap their heads around what had happened that night while he was sleeping.
“We just didn’t understand,” said Renee Campbell, Sharane’s sister and Kuron’s mother. “That’s how it was for the first couple months, which led us to do more research and kinda try to figure out what’s going on.”
Sharane Campbell was just a couple of months into her college career, trying to adapt to a new home and a new environment when Kuron died. She had class and practice responsibilities when all she wanted to do was be with her sister.
“I’m out there on the court, and my sister was probably somewhere crying,” Sharane Campbell said. “I felt like I should be with my family rather than being here. There was a lot of confusion. A lot of crying during practice.”
But she was eventually able to turn her grief into something positive. She was named to the Big 12’s All-Freshman team that season and won the league’s Sixth Man Award after averaging 9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.
Sharane keeps a photo of Kuron in her locker and continues to play in his memory to this day.
She’s also become as involved as she can in the fight against SIDS, posting messages online to raise awareness and researching it as much as possible.
She said she’d like to do more, but the demands of being a college basketball player make it tough.
“She’s very close to her sister, and was very close to Kuron,” said OU coach Sherri Coale. “It’s such a devastating type of loss because it’s unpredictable. You don’t see it coming.
“When you’re blindsided like that I think it hits you especially hard. I think she wanted to take her grief and turn it into something positive, so she became actively involved in the SIDS cause.”