In Memoriam: John Charles "Bird" Perry

John Charles “Bird” Perry passed away on January 15, 2019 at age 47.

At various points between 1999 and 2018, “Bird” served as an assistant coach with the USA Deaf Basketball team, most recently for the U21 USA Deaf Men’s National Team that won gold at the U21 World Championships in July 2018. In addition, Perry was a fixture on the Gallaudet Men’s Basketball, as a player for four years and as a member of the coaching staff for 15 years. Outside of his duties with the Gallaudet and USA Basketball teams, Perry was active in the USA Deaf Basketball (USADB) club circuit, where he began with the Maryland Stars and later helped lead the Northern Virginia (NoVa) and DC Maryland Virginia (DMV) squads to six USADB National Championships over a nine year span. During this run, Perry accomplished a pair of three-peats as a player-coach (2010-2012 and 2016-2018) and garnered Coach of the Tournament honors three times in 2010, 2012, and 2016. Perry also served as an officer for the EAAD regional chapter of USADB.

USA Deaf Sports Federation President Danny Lacey, who shared duties with Perry as young assistant coaches for the Gallaudet Men’s Basketball team from 1999 to 2000, recalls, “John brought a consistent positive attitude and genuine respect for all student-athletes to each game, practice, preparation meeting, scouting trip, and film session, and made the season fun.” Deaflympian and former player and head coach of the Bison, Brendan Stern wrote in an online tribute to Perry, “Bird may be gone today but he belongs to the ages. Not because he was fancy, [. . .] but because of his goodness. In a day and age when voluntarism and virtue are in short supply, he is an inspiration worthy of emulating.”

“Bird brought an unbelievable work ethic in giving his best in everything he did, and everyone who came in touch with him certainly learned a thing or two from him,” Lacey added. Bird would routinely go out of his way to help others, as Stern recalled:

His habit of volunteering anytime he was needed, his arms waving us off [. . .] whenever we apologized for imposing or thanked him for his help. More games to scout in person? Gratitude for having my back? Working with post players on their drop step after practice late into the night? Dropping off players who lived quite far? We were almost always told that it was “no problem.”

Brendan Stern, "What Bird Taught Me"

In a tribute written for USADB, Darnell Woods added:

Perry was a true comrade who cared deeply for the basketball community and improving the competitive and [administrative] parts of deaf basketball. His pleasant, warm demeanor will be missed. His strategic authority of his squads will be forever remembered. He was a champion in all phases of the game both on the floor and off the floor.

Darnell Woods

He is survived by his wife, Dierdre Nealy Perry. The couple also had four children together, John, DeMarcus, Drake, and Johanna. In remembrance of John, please consider a donation in his name to the First Baptist Church of Woodbridge OR to Gallaudet University

Read the tribute from USADB by Darnell Woods:

Read the tribute by Brendan Stern:

Read the letter from Victor Mansure, Athletic Director, Gallaudet University:

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