He truly was in his element coaching, he loved being with the kids," Kyle Gianotti said.
Gianotti is talking about his childhood friend Dave Barns, a guy who grew up on the basketball court in Goodrich, went on to play at Detroit Mercy, then came back to his alma mater to coach the sport he loved.
"The Barns family loved being by the court," Gianotti said.
Barns is the son of long-time varsity boys basketball coach Gary Barns. When Dave wasn't helping his dad with his team, he was making champions out of the junior varsity, or at least trying.
"He literally treated the JV games like he was coaching the Final Four," Gianotti said.
But Barns was thrown a curve in the game of life no one saw coming. He was playing pick-up basketball one day, when he was hit in the head. He chalked up the headaches to a concussion, but months later when he went to the doctors at the University of Michigan, he was diagnosed with cancer. For a year and a half following, the 30-year-old fought.
"I never wavered in thinking he would beat it, if anyone would beat it, Dave would," Gianotti said.
It wasn't easy for Barns: five brain surgeries, Chemo therapy and radiation.
He married his sweetheart in December 2011, and was there for his friend when he married the following February.
"He said, I want to be there for you," Gianotti said. "I'll have the surgery after the wedding"
Things took a turn for the worst in March, and Barns never really recovered. Sunday he passed away surrounded by his family and his friends. Gianotti said Barns' fight was long, and brutal, but he will only remember his friend one way.
"Strong, just strong."
Gianotti said the family is considering creating a "Dave Barns" scholarship for teens, but that is only in its beginning stages.