It took Brian Carter just a decade as a basketball coach to learn that what happened on the court wasn't as important as what happens off of it, after high school. Friends say his calling as an educator at South High created an unusually strong bond with players and his special-education students, who lost Carter in a car accident on Oct. 30. He was just 41.

“He loved his kids. They were like his personal kids — he loved them and they would run across campus with him, and he was always so positive and happy with them,” said South High School Athletic Director Jim McConnell. “Lots of folks look at it like we lost our head varsity coach, but first and foremost, he was an educator.”

North High basketball coach Matt Morin played basketball with Carter at East Bakersfield High under the tutelage of Joe Dominguez.

“It’s a brotherhood of coaches. There’s only 18 of us in this town and to lose one of 18 — it hurts,” Morin said.

Despite his competitive spirit, points on a scoreboard aren’t what motivated him, Morin said.

“He couldn’t care less about wins or losses,” Morin said. “What he cared more about is ‘Are you going to be a success 10 years from now?’”

Carter’s love of teaching and basketball was only eclipsed by the love he had for his daughter, Emma, McConnell said.

“She was his life,” McConnell said.