Port Arthur Proud important for basketball star Kenneth Lofton Jr. & his family

Published 12:34 am Friday, August 20, 2021

Former Memorial High School basketball player Kenneth Lofton Jr. is as proud of his hometown as he is the gold medal that now adorns his neck.

“The whole time he always mentioned Port Arthur,” his father, Kenneth Lofton Sr. said when referencing articles written about his son. “He didn’t go out and say, ‘I’m from Houston.’ We had an article that said he was from Houston and he corrected them. ‘No. I’m from Port Arthur.’”

The articles have printed in plenty since the now Louisiana Tech student led Team USA to the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup title this summer. He’s received a proclamation from the City, recognition from the school district, and on Thursday was honored by the Port Arthur Rotary Club.

The Port Arthur Rotary on Thursday honored Kenneth Lofton Jr. Pictured, from left, are Kenneth Lofton Sr., Gina Lofton, Kenneth Lofton Jr., Past President Dr. Johnny Brown and President Arthur Thomas. (Monique Batson/The News)

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The service organization presented Lofton and his family with two large picture frames containing photos that chronicled his basketball career and an article from The Port Arthur News that published following the World Cup win.

“I’m just so delighted to acknowledge this young man,” said Dr. Johnny Brown, past president of the Rotary Club. “I’ve known him for a few years — since 2006. And I think the first time I saw him, he was dribbling a basketball. He was about 4 or 5 years old playing basketball with older youth.”

He was practically born on a court.

“He started playing at 2 years old at the YMCA,” said Lofton Sr. “He has always said he wanted to play pro ball and be the best to come out of Port Arthur, so he’s on his way. We tell him it’s a blessing, and just work hard and keep pushing yourself.”

He’s been following pro players from Port Arthur all his life.

Kenneth Lofton Jr., center, with parents Kenneth Lofton Sr. and Gina Lofton. (Monique Batson/The News)

“People from Port Arthur: Jamaal Charles, Elandon (Roberts), Stephen Jackson,” he said when asked about his sports heroes. “People like that I look up to. I want to be just like them and put on for Port Arthur — the things they do for the city and for others.”

Sports is in his blood, said mother Gina Lofton. Her oldest son ran track at Houston-Tillotson, her older daughter played basketball at Southern University in Baton Rogue. Her dad ran track in college, and her siblings all played basketball.

“His goal as a little child was always to go to the NBA, so it’s exciting to see him fulfill his dream,” she said.

But it wasn’t just his athletic skills that the Louisiana Tech student, who will start his second year Sept. 8, was praised for.

“I’m proud of him for his personality, his infectious positive outlook on things,” she said. “You can’t find a person that hates on Junior because he’s so positive and so respectful and such a gentleman. I’m just so proud of him.”

Dr. Mark Porterie, PAISD superintendent, was also in attendance for the presentation.

“As Dr. Brown said, with all your accolades of sports and athletics, the person you are is what we’re most proud of,” he said.

Lofton Jr. said returning to Port Arthur with a gold medal and being recognized by his hometown for his accomplishment has been an honor.

As for what’s next: “I’m getting ready for the upcoming season. Trying to get to the March Madness and be the best team at Louisiana Tech.”