He wanted to be a pilot, says mum of teen killed at basketball court


Bereaved: Rahimah looking at mementos of Mohd Ridwan, whose photo is seen on this phone screen (right). — The Straits Times/ANN

AFTER returning home late from the basketball court, the lanky teenage boy could usually be heard singing pop songs and playing the keyboard in his room, or screaming at his laptop during gaming sessions with his friends.

This often went on past 11pm, when his mother Rahimah Lee Abdullah, 62, would leave for her night shift as a petrol station attendant in Pasir Ris.

But since Monday, the three-room Housing Board flat in Bedok, where Mohd Ridwan, 17, lived with his father and maternal grandmother, has been noticeably quieter.

At about 9pm that day, a knock on the door woke Rahimah up. Police officers said her son had been in an accident on the basketball court. The boy later died of his injuries.

“I live a very simple life; I worked only for my son. Now I don’t know who to work for,” said Rahimah, as her eyes brimmed with tears.

On Monday night, Ridwan was playing basketball with a friend at the court near Bedok South Road when the backboard structure of the basketball hoop fell on him.

The police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force were called at about 8.45pm.

The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central student was unconscious when he was taken to Changi General Hospital, and died at the hospital.

In a copy of his death certificate, the condition leading to his death was a head injury.

When reporters visited his home on Wednesday, his bunk bed was made, his numerous pairs of basketball shoes sat on a shoe rack in the living room, and his notes on unmanned aircraft systems were left untouched in the bedroom he shared with the family’s domestic helper, Maia Ahmad.

“He wanted to be a pilot,” his mother explained, as she retrieved a near perfect report card from ITE College Central.

“He was very clever. One of his friends said he was top in the class.”

She related how her only child loved basketball so much that he would head to the court with his friends almost daily ever since he was in primary school.

“Every day, he would go. There was hardly a day he wouldn’t go there to play,” she said, adding that Ridwan had played for his school team since primary school.

“He was tall and strong, so, of course, he was very good.”

Maia, who has been with the family for two years, showed piles of the teen’s basketball jerseys folded neatly in his cupboard.

The 38-year-old, who is from Bandung, Indonesia, sleeps on the lower bunk while the boy used to sleep on the top bunk.

After telling reporters how Ridwan would often sing and play the keyboard before going to bed, Maia got out her phone to play a video clip of the teen performing his cover of Calum Scott’s song, You Are The Reason.

Friends, family and former teachers have visited Ridwan’s home and offered their condolences to Rahimah, his father and grandmother.

Deputy Prime Minister and MP for East Coast GRC Heng Swee Keat visited the family on Tuesday morning to offer his condolences and support.

“He told me they would investigate and find out what happened, and I said, ‘Yes, please find out’,” Rahimah said.

“The basketball hoop is supposed to be new, so why did my son kena (get hit)?” she asked, noting reports that the concrete slabs of the basketball court and a new hoop structure were just installed in April last year. — The Straits Times/ANN

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