St. Bonaventure's Department of Athletics hosted a lunch reception honoring the memory of legendary basketball great, Tom Stith '57 on Saturday, January 29, 2011 at Fordham University just prior to the St. Bonaventure vs. Fordham Men's Basketball. Tom and his brother Sam were standout players at both St. Francis Prep and later at St. Bonaventure. They were inducted into the SFP Hall of Fame in 2007 (see picture at left) and were honored at the Prep's historic "Return to North 6th Street Reunion" at the close of the Prep's 150th Anniversary year in October 2009. Tom passed away in June 2010.
There have been so many glowing tributes written over the years about Tom and Sam Stith. Upon Tom's passing Bro. Michel Bettigole, O.S.F. ‘57 wrote a beautiful piece about them which appeared in the July
24, 2010 edition of "The Tablet.” Some highlights are as follows:
There were many winning teams at Prep in the year 1957, but none captured the imagination and enthusiasm more than the Catholic school basketball rivalries. In the midst of it all the talent, one stood out from all the rest: the center for St. Francis Prep, Tom Stith. One of the first African-American students to play in the CHSAA, Tom and his brother, Sam, who was one year older, brought national recognition to St. Francis basketball. Tom dominated the league. He scored in double figures in a seemingly effortless manner. With his brilliant play at center, the Prep won three consecutive City championships and one national title. Twice voted a High School All-American, he broke the leagues scoring record for total points in his senior year. Fans came from all over the East Coast to watch him play. He had a gracious manner that made him the model of a true gentleman. Tom and his brother Sam ‘56, were the two greatest basketball players to ever wear the Prep’s uniform. They both went on to St. Bonaventure University. Together they put the "Bonnies” on the map. Tom was twice voted a collegiate All-American. He and Sam led St. Bonaventure to national prominence and successful runs in the NIT and the NCEA. For years, Tom held the all-time scoring record at the upstate New York school and his record for the most points scored in a single season still stands almost 50 years later.
After graduation, Tom and Sam both went on to professional careers. Tom was the second round draft pick in the nation and played for the Knicks. After his basketball career, he was a sales executive for Shell Oil and Cablevision. Tom and Sam were inducted into the Prep’s Hall of Fame in 2007 and they had their uniforms retired by the Prep at last the October’s "North 6th Street Reunion.” Tom passed away this June. He was 71.