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Like father, like daughters on and off the court

Roxbury native finds inspiration from the women in his life

Jimmy Myers
Like father, like daughters on and off the court
Trent Forbes with (l-r) daughter Tatum, wife Bernadette andaughter Tyla. PHOTO: COURTESY FORBES FAMILY

One of the most popular adages in life holds that “Behind every great man, there is a great woman.” I was always conflicted about that, because I have known far too many women who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with successful men, and, in some cases, stand in front, leading the way for men to succeed in life. Such is the case with Trent Ronald Forbes.

Born to Tanya Forbes on June 29, 1969, young Trent honed his basketball skills on the courts of Roxbury. He was already a good player with developed ball skills when I met him in the late 1970s. Incredibly well-mannered, Trent impressed me with his handling of situations on and off the court.

I would soon discover that his inner strength came from his mother, Tanya, and his grandmother, Geraldine D. Forbes. These two mighty women were the twin forces that guided him through the elements of ghetto life surrounding him. I can still hear Tanya and Geraldine D. — you always had to use her middle initial or face the consequences of her death stare that she passed down to her daughter Tanya.

These God-blessed women often told me: “Trent will make a success of his life or face the consequences of our wrath.” I am cleaning up their actual words.

Trent played on successful basketball teams throughout his life. He was a National Junior Pro championship team member from what was then called the Roxbury Boys Club at the tender age of 10. His coach, the late Tommy McNair, would repeatedly tell me about Trent’s poise under pressure and how his teammates looked to him for guidance in the clutch moments of big games.

Tatum Forbes on the court. PHOTOS: COURTESY FORBES FAMILY

“He loves the pressure; I think he thrives on it,” McNair said. “Very few young men at that age want to put the game on their shoulders. Trent not only wants the responsibility; he craves it, but not at the expense of taking anything away from the team. He was mature beyond his years in that area.”

Trent attended Dover-Sherborn High School. He scored over 1,400 points before accepting a scholarship to Providence College. The signature moment of his college career came in a nationally televised game against the fifth-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Trent came off the bench and lit up the Wildcats, scoring 27 points in his team’s upset victory. I remember hearing the announcers of that game say, “Where did this guy come from, and why isn’t he playing more?” The fault of that lay on the shoulders of head coach Rick Barnes.

Trent would play professionally overseas, reaching a pinnacle moment of his basketball career when he tossed in 48 points to lead his Irish pro league team to a championship. After returning home, he received an offer to play in a professional league in Puerto Rico.

“I was all packed and ready to go when I received a call that the team decided to sign a big man instead of a six-foot-plus guard — me. I decided right then and there that it was time for me to settle down and make a life for myself,” Trent Forbes recalled. “I don’t know what would have happened if I had gone to play in Puerto Rico, but I know I made the best decision when I decided to marry my wife, Bernadette, settle down and make a family.”

Tyla Forbes running track. PHOTO: COURTESY FORBES FAMILY

Trent and Bernadette had two beautiful daughters, Tatum Love and Tyla Lynn. He also has a younger sister named Toya — from a marriage between his mother Tanya and Willie Parkman — who became one of the queens in his life.

“My nana, Geraldine D. Forbes — don’t ever forget the middle initial “D”— my mother Tanya, sister Toya, wife Bernadette and daughters Tatum and Tyla have surrounded me with a special love that few people ever get to experience,” he said.

Trent will quickly tell you that as a father, he had “the special privilege and good fortune to coach his daughters through their developmental years. Basketball gave them structure in their lives. It taught them how to manage their emotions and deal with people on and off the court.”

Their mother, Bernadette, provided support in her special way.

“My mom always taught me to stay focused and not to be so hard on myself when I made mistakes on the court,” Tatum said. “She constantly said, ‘Forget the last play, keep going and believe in yourself.’ That same thought was echoed by my father differently. He would always say: ‘Be the best version of yourself.’”

Both Tatum and Tyla had successful playing careers, winning championships at the AAU level. But Papa Trent remembers big losses as well as championship moments.

“Tyla’s first AAU team lost by over 50 points to a team coached by one of my best friends who was a member of my wedding party,” Trent said. “That one stung then and still stings to this day because I work with my friend whose team pounded my inexperienced squad to dust.”

Within four years, that team was top-ranked in New England, with Tyla Forbes as one of its best players.

In the meantime, Tatum was advancing up the basketball ranks. After transferring from St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island to St. Mark’s High School in Southborough, Massachusetts, she got noticed by college recruiters. Even though she has battled being labeled “too small” throughout her basketball-playing years, the 5-foot-5-inch guard excelled enough to win a scholarship to the University of Hartford. She has since transferred to St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she will put her skills on display in her sophomore year.

Her younger sister, Tyla, left basketball to pursue her nursing career as a freshman at Quinnipiac College.

“I lost my love for the game of basketball. I realized that I was playing to please others and not myself,” Tyla said. “I turned to track and field, but I still pick up that basketball every now and then. My dad played and coached with so much passion and love for the game. I want to apply that kind of passion by caring for people, like my mom and dad taught me.”

While Tyla focuses on serving others, Tatum still plays college basketball, with an eye on someday competing in the WNBA,.

She still battles the “too-small” label.

“Whenever I hear that, it just drives me harder to overcome it,” she said. “I love this game. And I am going to play it with all the passion I can bring to it, every time I step on a basketball court.”

Her sister Tyla is just as passionate in her pursuit of a nursing degree. “I just want to give my life to helping the sick and needy,” she said.

The sisters’ father, Trent Forbes, now spends his days as the vice principal and dean of discipline at the Lee School in Dorchester.

“After 17 years of teaching in the classroom, my life centers on the development of young people that God has put in my care. Disciplining them is hard, but so rewarding,” he said.

Trent Forbes’ achievements on the basketball court include a playing role in the film “Celtic Pride” with Damon Wayans and Dan Aykroyd.  “I’m number 11, and I have hair in the movie,” the bald man said.

So many men put their pride in their sons. Men like Trent Forbes express the same pride in two daughters taking different directions.

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