North Sound News

Burlington basketball coach remembers former player killed in U of I murders

BURLINGTON, Wash. — As the investigation continues into the murder of four University of Idaho students, a Skagit County basketball coach is remembering one of the victims.

It was at a gym in Burlington where Ethan Chapin honed his skills on the basketball court. He started playing the sport when he was in elementary school, and in the process, he developed a lifelong bond with his coach.

“He’s just a top-notch kid. I can’t say that enough. He was just one of the best kids you’ll ever meet,” said basketball coach Tyler Amaya.

For every shot, score and celebration on the court, Amaya said that Chapin’s greatest gift may have been his unwavering, unmistakable camaraderie.

“When you coached him, he gave you eye contact, you could see the sincerity in his eyes, he wanted to learn, he wanted to grow,” said Amaya.

The mentorship between Amaya and Chapin began when Chapin was in the fourth grade. It ended up lasting for the rest of Chapin’s life.

“We played a lot of basketball together, we lifted a lot of weights, we hung out a lot, and the coach/player relationship over the years turned into more of a brotherhood,” Amaya told KIRO 7.

A momentous photo taken at Chapin’s high school graduation in 2021 illustrated that “brotherhood.”

It shows Chapin hoisting up Amaya during a moment of honor between the player and his coach.

“When I left that night after his graduation party, I cried happy tears, because I was just proud of him and his brother,” Amaya remembered.

Now though, comes tears of a very different nature.

Now the brotherly bond is a thing of the past, so unexpected and so sudden.

“You never think it’ll happen to you, or someone close to you, and it’s just such a tragedy,” Amaya noted.

In Idaho, Chapin’s fellow basketball players observed a moment of silence for him and the other victims in the case, as community support swells by the day.

“He represented the best of humanity, truly. Never saw a negative thing out of him. Ever,” Amaya said.