In remembrance: Grand Valley’s Young plays in memory of her sister

Grand Valley’s Shawnee Young shows off one of the two tattoos she has to remember her younger sister, Misty, who died five years ago.

PARACHUTE — Grand Valley High School senior point guard Shawnee Young has plenty of things that remind her of her sister, Misty.

She remembers playing one-on-one basketball with her. She remembers, with a smile and a laugh, some of the fights they got into, and some of the fights she broke up with Misty and their older sister, Samantha.

Shawnee also remembers the day Misty died.

She carries reminders of Misty in two tattoos, one a Playboy bunny logo on her ankle.

On her left shoulder is a unique blue design above the word “Believe.”

“She was really into Playboy bunnies,” Shawnee said, turning from her ankle to her shoulder. “And this one, I found one of her old scrapbooks. She had these all over the place. It was just another way to remember her.”

Those memories, Shawnee said, have helped motivate her throughout her high school basketball career. A three-year starter and a three-time All Western Slope League selection, her talent has helped her earn the respect of coaches and players.

The 5-foot-4 guard is the Cardinals’ leading scorer (8.8 points per game) and long-range shooter. Her 34 3-pointers are a league high, according to statistics provided by, and rank second in Class 3A behind Breezy Bryant of Pagosa Springs, who has 39.

“Every time I’m doing well out there, I can’t help but look at the sky and say, ‘That was for you,’ ” she said.

She has so many good memories, but the memory of the day her sister died five years ago is still vivid.

Misty, then a junior who played softball at Grand Valley, was riding home near the beginning of basketball season. The roads were icy and, after the car slid on the slick surface, a rock on the road caused the car to roll.

Neither the driver nor Misty were wearing seat belts. The driver, a Grand Valley basketball player at the time, survived. When Shawnee answered the phone that day and handed the receiver to her dad, Steve, she watched him collapse as he heard the news.

“That was a very emotional time,” said Grand Valley girls basketball coach Mike Johnson, who has known the Young family for years and played prep football for Steve Young at Grand Valley.

“Any time you lose a high school kiddo, it’s rough on everyone.

“But the one thing I noticed, and I became in awe with, was how well that family dealt with it. They were so positive with everyone. I have no idea if I could handle something like that so well.”

Shawnee has handled it in a positive way, and has turned that into positive contributions for the Cardinals.

She thinks about her sister every day, especially when she’s on the basketball court, and wears Misty’s No. 2 jersey.

“Sometimes I wonder if she’s watching down on us and can see what we’re doing,” Shawnee said. “I say to myself that I hope she’s watching, because I’m going to do my best for her.”


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