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'On Another Level'
After losing his father to addiction, Lloyer Driggs dedicated his senior season to the man who sparked his love of the game
Published: 2/5/2021 11:57:48 AM
 

 Photos by Matt VanSteekiste (@van.visual)

The family was a brand, no other way to put it. 

That’s how Lloyer Driggs thinks of his childhood in East Idaho. The Driggs were that family — the “fun house” as the young basketball phenom described it. Noisy, full of life and love.

And that loving home, as well as his connection to his father, was built on basketball.

The year was 2008. The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics were facing off in the NBA Finals, a rivalry with enough history to fill a textbook. As a young Driggs watched the series with his dad, he quickly fell in love with the game. Watching Kobe Bryant go up against a loaded Celtics big three inspired a newfound passion, one which his father only fueled. 

“He was an amazing storyteller and we loved listening to him and all of us actually listened,” Driggs said. “He taught us everything, from history and current events to sports trivia and pop culture.”

His father, Richard Troy Driggs, competed in high school as well, finishing his senior season in Las Vegas. The family moved to the Gem State in 2009, where Driggs would eventually attend Hillcrest High School. 

As Driggs worked to compete at the high school level, he said he father was there every step of the way. At the crack of dawn, the pair waltzed into the Apple Athletic Club, where Troy would rebound any stray balls, streamlining his son’s shot training while offering pointers. 

“My dad was a hardworking, loving, intelligent father,” Driggs said. “We enjoyed the spoils of his labors and he was happy to labor for us.”

All that hard work earned Driggs a starting spot on the Thunder Ridge varsity roster. But his father never got to see his son realize his dream.

In 2017, Troy Driggs died of a heart attack, brought on by an addiction to prescription pain killers and alcohol. Driggs said his father’s addiction began years prior, after lingering sports injuries eventually caught up with him, leading to doctors prescribing the medication. The abuse was mostly kept from Driggs and his twin brother Dutch.

His parents divorced soon after his father’s addiction took hold. But Troy remained in the Idaho Falls area, still making it possible to be a part of his son’s life. 

“The medication and alcohol abuse changed him,” Driggs said. “After my parents divorced, he lived near us and really tried to be in our lives, but it was so hard because he wasn’t himself. My mom reminds us of the man and father he once was and helps us to be grateful for the time we had with him.”

But this new reality, with his once wholesome family now separated, was soon turned upside down. Driggs said the call came in around fifth period. His mom wanted both him and his brother to come home. 

“I was already angry, sad and confused and I had a bit of an attitude,” Driggs said. “Now there was no chance to get him back.”

The news came two weeks before Driggs was set to try out for the Hillcrest boys basketball team. In the years that followed his father’s death, Driggs buried himself in the game, working relentlessly every day to try and get better, try to reach the high mark his dad had set for him. 

“Basketball saved me. My dad loved this sport and so do I,” he said. “It’s my connection to him. It gives me focus, something to wake up for.”

Driggs admitted his fiery passion for the game can make him irrational at times, a bit hot headed as he strives for perfection on the court. But that should be expected, especially in his final year at the high school level. For the 2020-2021 season, Driggs said he dedicated the year to his father, taking the court every week in honor of him. 

“I expect my team to put in the work to win. None of us come to lose. I’m working on myself and improving everyday,” he said. “We need to be patient with others and reserve judgement. It’s hard but we don’t know what they could be suffering from or dealing with. We are all trying to get by in this life and become better each day.”

That intense style of leadership has turned the heads of many at Thunder Ridge High School, including Head Coach Lee Toldson.  

“Every year he’s dedicated to basketball, but this year is totally different. He’s on another level,” Toldson said. “He’s separated himself from everyone and this last summer has focused totally on the game.”

Toldson said Driggs was key in building Thunder Ridge into a powerhouse in just a few short years. Driggs transferred to the new high school after one year at Hillcrest, and started on the varsity squad immediately as a sophomore. Three years later, and Driggs has posted 1,000 career points.

"I’ve coached for a while, and when I first saw him I knew this kid was going to be special," Toldson said. "A lot of older kids don’t get it like that and put in the time, something he was doing as a sophomore."

Toldson said he knew something had changed in Driggs this season after the Titans’ 75-42 victory over Highland in December. After a 14-point performance, Driggs and the rest of the team returned to the school around 11 p.m. As he locked up the facility, Toldson found the senior Titan in the gym, practicing his shooting. 

Since the school’s inception in 2018, the Titans have gone 9-14, 10-14, and now 15-3 with just three games left in the regular season. Driggs was a cornerstone in building up that winning record, Toldson said, as he and his fellow seniors have come into their own.

“Coming in, we knew it was going to be a process. But we knew that by our senior year, if we continued to grind and work hard, we’re going to have a chance to compete for a state championship,” Driggs said. “That was a risk we were willing to take. We wanted to come here and start a new legacy.”

As the 5A District 5-6 tournament creeps closer, Driggs and the Titans are looking to lock up a No. 1 seed. Thunder Ridge sits one game behind conference-leader Madison in the standings with the pair set to face off Feb. 5. Diggs’ final regular season game will take place Feb. 12 at Idaho Falls. Fans can watch the game live on IdahoSports.com.

 

 

Until then, Driggs said he remains focused on his family, not just his father. Dutch has made waves in the E-Sports realm, ranking in the top 99% in the world competing in Call of Duty: Warzone. Meanwhile, his sister, Payton, lives in Europe with her husband Brandon Taylor, a former point guard at the University of Utah. Older brother Rydder will graduate from the Air Force Academy this year, and sister Quinn will head back to BYU this fall after living in Europe and the Middle East while working on her history degree.  

“I’m so grateful for a loving family, my mom, my dad Scott and my brothers and sisters. I’m grateful for Coach Toldson and other caring teachers and friends," he said. "I think about my dad everyday. I honor him by putting in the work necessary to make it to the next level in basketball and the work it takes to keep improving myself.”

 
 


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