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‘I thought he died’: Referee attacked by coach, son after recreational basketball game

A youth basketball official is recovering after a brutal attack following a recreational league basketball game. (Source: KVVU)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 4:45 PM CDT
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LAS VEGAS (KVVU/Gray News) - A veteran basketball referee is recovering after being seriously injured in a violent conflict after a recreational basketball game.

Referee Shawn Rowe said he was working a high school recreation league game at a community center on May 17 when a coach chirped at him even after the game was over, reported by KVVU.

“I show up to do my two-game set, and I’m working with a familiar coach,” Rowe said. “I figure worst case it will be a slight confrontation, but nothing serious. It was everything but.”

Rowe said workers at the rec center made sure to separate the coach from him since they knew the coach was still heated.

According to Rowe, a friend of his and fellow referee Perry Woodward, who was not working the game, stood by him to make sure he could get out of the parking lot.

However, Rowe said the coach, his wife, and his teen son continued to escalate the conflict. He said the coach and his son ran towards Woodward and punched him in the face.

“It was two guys taking a swing at Perry,” Rowe said. “I heard a loud thump against the concrete. It felt like everything had stopped. I looked at Perry, and I honestly thought he died.”

Doctors said Woodward is lucky to be alive after the attack. He was sent to the hospital with a brain bleed, concussion, fractured teeth and a complete ankle tear.

“We have constant threats towards us all over town doing games, but to see this kind of violence to an official,” said President of the Southern Nevada Officials Association Vince Kristosik. “It’s hard for me to find a story where this much physical injury occurred to someone here to officiate a game.”

Kristosik said violence towards referees is on the rise around the country. At the same time, they are having a more challenging time recruiting new people to work games.

“I’ve been a high school official for 30 years,” Kristosik said. “These incidents are increasing every year, and unless people realize, without officials, we’re not going to have games.”

Woodward continues his recovery after the incident but does have another surgery scheduled this week to repair his ankle.

“Officials, coaches, parents and kids have a responsibility. We have to stop that,” Rowe said.

According to City of Las Vegas officials, one person was arrested, and two others were cited.

Kristosik said the basketball community, including other coaches, has rallied around Woodward in support.

A GoFundMe is available to help raise money for Woodward’s medical expenses.

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