Tehachapi basketball team pays tribute to teen

Posted at 8:01 PM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-10 23:01:19-05

The Tehachapi High School Warriors now play all home basketball games in memory of a teenager killed in a hit and run accident.

14 year-old Leslie Balderrama was found on the side of a busy roadway in Tehachapi, after a driver and his passenger allegedly hit the teenager while driving along State Route 202.

Previous Stories:

Balderrama attended Tehachapi High School's basketball open gym events in the fall of 2015, where JV coach Brant Lewter said he immediately saw her talent.

"Right off the bat we started noticing okay, these girls have talent over there, these ones not so much. Leslie was right up there in the girls that have talent. If she didn't make varsity, she would for sure make JV," said Coach Lewter.

When he learned the news of Balderrama's death, he decided to do something for her family. Coach Lewter visited the family and asked for a photo of Leslie. He then created a poster in memory of the talented young athlete, which is now displayed at every Warriors home game.

The family issued this statement:

"On behalf of my family, we really appreciate the time that everybody has taken to be there to support and give us strength in any way they can. Last night at the game they had a moment of silence for our Les and the thought that my sister would be out there with those girls playing basketball hurts because we won't ever get to see her play her favorite sport ever again. The poster they put up is beautiful and it makes us all happy to know that she will always be remembered and never forgotten."

Only three home games remain for the Warriors season, but Coach Lewter says they hope to win each game for Leslie.