More Than A Game: KNT Basketball Squares Up Against Suicide

Since 2021, a basketball tournament has taken place in the Lehigh Valley that represents meaning and hope for those who have been affected by suicide: The KNT Basketball Tournament. Named in honor of Kobee Nyro Texter, who took his own life at age 24 after battling with mental health, the annual tournament is both a tribute and a mission to save lives. 

KNT Basketball founders Andrew Atiyeh, Brandon Vigo and Hamp Smith Jr. were friends with Texter for years. Their lives changed forever when they learned that their friend and fellow basketball player had ended his life—and they knew that they had to do something to help prevent similar tragedies.

“We could not see the signs that showed [Texter] was battling mentally, he didn’t feel comfortable enough to share it with us. We decided we couldn’t lose another friend, family member or community member again due to suicide,” the founders said.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States, taking nearly 50,000 lives out of an estimated 1.7 million attempts.* Through KNT Basketball, the founders aim to end the stigma around mental health, raise awareness and reduce the suicide rate.

“In our community, sadly, mental health tends to be passed over and suicide does not carry that much weight in someone’s heart—until it hits home,” the founders said. “With this program, we look to bring awareness to the growing stigma regarding mental health. We want to make our community a safe haven for those who struggle with mental health issues.”

The first KNT Basketball Tournament took place in September 2021, two months after Texter’s death. The founders had also partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, where they donated funds raised during the annual tournaments. Looking ahead, Atiyeh, Vigo and Smith Jr. plan to speak at schools and other athletic programs to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention, in addition to hosting the tournament. They also hope to increase the organization’s impact by creating a scholarship.

To learn more about KNT Basketball and support its mission, please click below 


*Based on U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data in 2021. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,