Little League® International remembers former professional basketball referee, Little League graduate, and friend of the organization, Jesse “Jess” Kersey. He was 76.
Mr. Kersey, a native of Newport News, Va., and 1958 graduate of Newport News High School, officiated 36 seasons in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and National Basketball Association (NBA). The first professional basketball game he officiated was in 1974; an exhibition matchup between the ABA’s Carolina Cougars and the New York Nets. For his career, Mr. Kersey worked 2,200 games, 190 in the playoffs; including 19 NBA finals, and five all-star games.
“Jess was just wonderful to be around, and shining example of how the life lessons learned in Little League can shape a person,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO. “Famous for reminding everyone to ‘enjoy the moment,’ I think it is safe to say that Jess certainly did so professionally, and most certainly did during his many years volunteering at the Little League World Series.”
Beginning his association with the Little League in 1952, Mr. Kersey played in the Newport News (Va.) Little League. He spent more than 15 summers volunteering at the Little League Baseball® World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and items of his personal memorabilia are on display in the World of Little League Museum and Official Store at Little League International in Williamsport.
Mr. Kersey, who resided in Williamsburg, Va., officiated games well into his 60s, retiring from the NBA after the 2007 season. In 2012, he was inducted the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. He is survived by his wife; Kathy; children Bryan and Todd; stepsons Kris and Keith Hall; and seven grandchildren. Our deepest condolences to the Kersey family during this difficult time.