Tragedy inspires Loyola senior guard Donte Ingram: ‘Failure is not an option’

SHARE Tragedy inspires Loyola senior guard Donte Ingram: ‘Failure is not an option’

Donte Ingram said he’s ready for his shot at the Big Dance. | Tom Gannam/Associated Press

A swirl of maroon, white and gray sneakers stamp on the court, but Loyola senior guard Donte Ingram’s stand out.

Unlike other players, Ingram wears a custom pair of Nikes — multicolored and covered with graffiti-type flourishes.


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The acronym “FINAO” — failure is not an option — is painted on the outside, and it serves as a constant and sometimes painful reminder.

On June 9, 2016, Ingram was on his way to the gym to work out like any other summer day. That was until a call from his parents stopped him in his tracks.

Ingram’s parents told him that his Simeon teammate and friend Saieed Ivey had been shot and killed in Los Angeles.

“That’s hard,” Ingram said, “still hard today.”

Ivey was one of Ingram’s first friends when he moved to Chicago from downstate Danville to play basketball at Simeon before his junior year. The two became close friends as Ivey helped Ingram adjust to living away from home.

FINAO was Ivey’s motto, and Ingram said it’s one he now lives by.

Unlike most of Simeon’s basketball stars who move out of the city to pursue their college careers, Ingram decided to stay in Chicago. He bought into coach Porter Moser’s philosophy about righting the ship and rebuilding Loyola’s basketball culture.

After Milton Doyle, Ingram was only the second Public League player to play at Loyola since 2004.

“I take a lot of pride in it, and I think that honestly more guys will start doing that, as well,” Ingram said. “I think you’ll start seeing more people staying in state and doing what they can do here in town.”

It was clear Ingram was headed for stardom at Loyola from his first season in 2014.

He brought a certain swagger to the court. Ingram struggled to find consistency in his early years, but he developed into a multidimensional player and dependable scorer. He’s shooting a career-best 45.7 percent from the field and averaging 11.6 points and 6.5 rebounds.

Looking back, Moser is proud of how far Ingram has come and how he has adopted a leadership role as a veteran.

“[Ingram has] been more vocal this year than any other year,” Moser said. “He’s always led by his play and how hard he plays and what he does on the floor. But he’s made a distinct effort to be more vocal.”

Ingram was named the Missouri Valley Conference tournament’s most valuable player last week after he scored 18 points in Loyola’s championship win against Illinois State that gave the Ramblers their first NCAA Tournament berth in more than three decades.

Heading into Selection Sunday, Ingram is trying to live in the moment.

“Every game, it could be our last,’’ Ingram said. ‘‘I just play it out and give it everything I’ve got. I don’t want to leave anything on the court. I want to leave everything out there for my teammates.”

Follow me on Twitter @madkenney.

Email: mkenney@suntimes.coms

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