AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- Many people in this community enjoy basketball. But Sunday afternoon, family and friends of a young boy killed in a car crash eight years ago used the sport he loved to honor him.
Through his love of the game, Eric Smalls passionately played with United Elite Basketball. Now, a tournament in his honor.
“To be able to offer, to other kids, what I had dreamed for my son to do to go forward with his education. So, to give back to the community in remembrance of him just over joys my heart,” Eric’s mother Frankie Simon said.
Smalls died after a car crash in Richmond County June 1st, 2015. Now, Simon wants to remind people to slow down before a yellow light and stop at every red one.
To remember her son, she gives young athletes throughout the CSRA a chance to play basketball, instilling skills they can take with them on and off the court.
“Unfortunately, he lost his life at a young age, so to keep his memory going we organize the banquet and this tournament. The banquet pretty much signifies that he can continue to be a part of basketball for the rest of his life and to college– high school graduates can go to college and be inspired by him and what he’s given back to them,” Director and Coach of United Elite Basketball Corey Warren said.
Money raised at the tournament will be awarded to one hard working senior athlete seeking higher education.
“We’ve given over 11- thousand dollars to young people in the CSRA, that in their basketball goal dreams to go onto college, to help them with their finances with their books or tuition or however they need it and also most of them will be playing basketball on the collegiate level,” Simon said.
Friends and teammates of Eric say they play in his memory.
“Me and Eric were friends ever since I was a little boy, like kindergarten I would say. So, playing for him, supporting him being there for Ms. Frankie and the whole organization– United Elite and everybody that was with Eric. It just feels good,” Georgia Havoc 17U basketball player Darryl Cruz said.
Smalls would have been a rising senior in high school.