Tributes flow for basketballer and reality TV star
His style was smooth and his smile was unforgettable - tributes have flooded in for a former Queensland basketball player and reality television personality after his shock death last week.
Tavita Karika was born and grew up in Timaru, New Zealand before moving to Queensland's Sunshine Coast almost a decade ago.
It was there, he became a popular figure in the basketball community playing for the Noosa Cyclones and then the Sunshine Coast Clippers against teams throughout Brisbane in the Southern Basketball League as well as spending some time in the Clippers Queensland Basketball League squad.
Karika then returned to New Zealand in 2019, where he appeared on the country's version of The Bachelorette as well as Heartbreak Island.
But friends and former teammates of Karika's were left shocked on April 29 when his family announced the 31-year-old had passed via the fundraising site Givealittle.
"With heavy hearts we announce the passing of our friend Tavita Antoni Karika, the statement read.
"On the 29th of April 2021 Tavita took his last breath and with that our hearts.
"If you had the pleasure of knowing Tavita you will know just how difficult this is for his family, friends and all who loved him."
Joe Mackay, a former teammate and close friend of Karika's, said he would never forget his mate.
"TK was the guy that had a nickname for everyone on the team before preseason finished, taught us all to shoot our open shots with confidence, made sure all our outfits were top to bottom tied together," he said.
"But most importantly genuinely wanted to make sure you were doing good every time he saw or spoke to you.
"I'll never forget your laugh or your smile, I would do anything for one more session just getting shots up and working on post moves with you with the beats on blast.
"Rest easy Tkeezy, Big Homie Joe."
Social media was flooded with tributes from former teammates after hearing the news last week.
"RIP Mate - the smoothest guy in the lay up line during warm ups. Gone to soon," Darren Best, who played with Karika at the Clippers, said.
His former club in Noosa also posted a touching tribute.
"Noosa Cyclones have heavy hearts with the tragic news of the passing of Tavita Karika, known to everyone around the Noosa and (Sunshine Coast) Phoenix community as TK," the post said.
"Between the years 2014-2017 before moving to NZ in 2018, TK was a senior player for Noosa and Clippers. He coached at club and interclub level from Mini Hoops through to U18.
"He helped co-ordinate the Noosa Friday and Saturday Junior programs, bringing with him a cheeky fun-loving attitude.
"Our juniors would watch in awe of him dunking and constantly laughing either at him or with. Our juniors would sit court side during his SBL games cheering him on.
"We send our condolences to his family and friends."
The fundraising page was started to help his family with funeral costs, to donate visit click here.
If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Originally published as Tributes flow for basketballer, reality TV star after shock death