The news that John Malone, Jr., a River Forester attending Indiana University, had been killed in an Indiana highway accident was a shock to those who remembered his gentle ways during his high school basketball career at Fenwick.
"I heard about John on Saturday and it just was dumbfounding and stunning news," said Fenwick teacher John Quinn, who coached Malone on the Friars' varsity basketball team between 2009 and 2011. "I've known John since seventh grade and I also know his family well. John never had a down day in his life. He was a big kid, 6-5, 220-pounds but a gentle soul. He was always looking out for his teammates especially the younger guys."
Malone, 20, was killed Saturday, May 4, when he was ejected from a vehicle that blew a tire and rolled three times on northbound I-65 around 1:53 p.m., Indiana State Police said.
Malone was pronounced dead at the scene after being thrown out of the 2003 Ford Explorer, said state police. Another student, Michael D. Rendy, 20 of LaGrange, was ejected from the car and then airlifted to Advocate Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn with life-threatening injuries. Malone and Rendy were not wearing seatbelts, according to the state police investigation.
The driver, Mario L. Guagliardo, 20, of north suburban Deerfield, was northbound in the right lane when the right tire blew and caused him to lose control, police said. Guagliardo and passenger Jacob M. Newman, 20, of LaGrange, both of whom were wearing seatbelts, sustained minor injuries, police said.
Malone played on Fenwick's varsity basketball team in 2009-10 and 2010-11. The 6-5, 220-pound forward/center averaged four points and seven rebounds per game his senior year. He was named a tri-captain along with Dylan Barnett and Tim Gancer in 2010-11.The Friars finished 14-12 in both Malone's junior and season campaigns.
"He was our post player and a natural leader. John was a very good defender and tireless rebounder," Quinn said.
Malone was honored as the Phil Sloan Award winner (voted on by Fenwick basketball coaches), an annual honor given to the Fenwick basketball player who best exemplifies leadership, selflessness and character. Malone graduated from Fenwick in 2011.
Operations Manager Bill Lyman, at Double AA Rental in Melrose Park, remembered his summer employee Malone. who helped set up tents and make deliveries.
"He was a big strong guy, always energetic and reliable," Lyman said. "It's just a tragedy and a painful reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed."
John Malone is survived by his parents, Jack (Marge Hair) Malone and Cathy Malone
(Jim) Shaw, and his sister Ciara Malone. He was the grandson of Brid and the late Joseph Malone and Donna and the late Dr. Michael (Joanne) DiGilio. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in John's name to Fenwick High School Scholarship Fund, 505 W. Washington Blvd., Oak Park, IL 60302.