The family of Abakar Kazbekov Wants the public to know they’re grateful for the outpouring of support they’ve received in light of the 18-year-old’s death.
Kazbekov, who joined the Knights in 2021 as a centre, died over the weekend after falling from a condo tower in downtown London, Ont., according to multiple media reports.
on monday, a GoFundMe campaign was launched on behalf of the family that looks to help pay for funeral costs. As of 4:40 pm Tuesday, it has raised more than $20,000.
GoFundMe launched for family of London Knights player Abakar Kazbekov
In their first comments since his passing, the Kazbekov family said in a statement, “we would like to thank the London Knights, the Ontario Hockey League, the Canadian Hockey League, the City of London, the people of London, his teammates, his friends, and everyone who has been touched by this terrible tragedy.”
“The outpouring of support and condolences from all over the world has been overwhelming,” the family added.
The statement goes on to describe Kazbekov as “a devoted son, a loving brother, and a friend to many,” who was “respectful, well mannered, generous, and caring.”
“He was an extremely talented hockey player, but more importantly he was an outstanding young man … The sadness and sense of terrible loss has been hard on everyone,” the family’s statement added.
The statement concludes by making mention of the “close knit hockey community” for whom the news “has been particularly difficult to absorb.”
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“We are all friends, and neighbors of a young hockey player somewhere. Put them in your thoughts and prayers as we all grieve this terrible loss,” the family said.
David Goldberg is a close family friend whose mother-in-law was part of the billet family with the Knights that housed Kazbekov and his brother Gadzhi. Goldberg lived about five minutes away and says the two brothers “very quickly became a big part of our family.”
“He was my guy,” Goldberg said, describing Kazbekov as overly polite and always willing to go the extra mile for those he cared about.
“He brought furniture in for us, he helped us put a pool table together. There was never any ‘no I can’t do it, no I’m busy, no I don’t want to come over, no we’re not playing (PlayStation 4)’ — he played PS4 with my 11-year- old a number of times,” Goldberg added.
“He was always willing to show up, to help.”
Goldberg also remembers Kazbekov’s unmatched passion for the sport, remarking that “it was hockey or nothing.”
“He loved hockey, he wanted to continue, he had dreams of the NHL. As the first pick overall in Under-18 Priority Selection, those were attainable dreams, he has punched his ticket, he was on the way.”
On top of supporting funeral costs, the GoFundMe campaign will also help pay for an upcoming memorial and viewing.
Alina Yakus, a close friend of the Kavbekovs who organized the fundraiser on their behalf, says the plan is to provide a service for the general public to attend.
“Everything’s trying to get planned pretty quickly, so that everyone has a chance to grieve and pay their respects,” Yakus added.
Yakus plans to share an update on the upcoming service once details are confirmed.
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