By and large, Olathe is University of Kansas territory.
Certainly, it’s not University of Missouri turf.
But you wouldn’t know that the last few days in the neighborhood where former MU basketball player Jeff Warren lived.
“He was very well-liked over here, and every one of these guys has got an MU flag hanging out the front of their house,” said Patrick Richey, who at KU in the early 1990s played against Warren. “It’s kind of a touching tribute.”
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Warren, 44, died last Friday from a particularly aggressive form of lymphoma with which he was diagnosed last summer.
Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Grace United Methodist Church in Olathe, and a memorial service will be held there at 10:30 a.m. Friday.
He will be best remembered for his humility and kindness and, of course, his way of bringing people together.
That was one of his traits as a player and teammate, and the reaction in his neighborhood reiterates that it was just part of his being.
By Richey’s estimate, at least eight to 10 households in his view from five or six houses away from Warren’s were flying the MU flags as of Wednesday night.
And there were plenty of others flying on the surrounding blocks.
Most likely, nearly all of them had to be purchased for the occasion since few in the area probably had them in stock at home.
“Nope, somebody had to go get ’em,” said Richey, who said the neighborhood wants to rally to support Warren’s wife, Susan, and their children, Mitchell and Bennett. “They respected him so much and liked him so much that they don’t even think about … how much you disliked the other team.
“Because this is the game of life, not the game of basketball anymore.”
Richey first met Warren when he was among his hosts on a recruiting trip at Missouri.
“I got to know him then and always liked him and thought he was a super friendly individual,” Richey said. “Everybody that’s ever met Jeff likes Jeff. I don’t think the guy had a bad bone in his body. …
“I want more people to know how good a person Jeff Warren was.”
That’s why even Richey asked a friend who was picking up MU flags to get him one.
“I intend to have it up here in the next day or so,” he said. “I imagine they’ll be up maybe a couple of weeks to pay respects to the family. Hopefully, they’re touched by it, as well.”