Fourth annual Eric J. Smalls Memorial basketball tournament and banquet tips off

CSRA News

Every year Frankie Simon awards one lucky high school senior a scholarship to help with college tuition.

To qualify, the students must demonstrate outstanding leadership, sportsmanship, and have a passion for basketball.

“It’s our responsibility to help them get there,” said Simon. “This scholarship is helping them get there who loves the game so much; they can get where they want to be. Also, to make it a lesser burden on them.”

Four years ago, her son Eric Smalls was killed in a terrible car accident at the age of nine, along with two of his friends.

His mom is keeping his spirit and his passion for basketball alive with students who best represent Eric’s goals.

A few of the nominees say being selected to pursue Eric’s dream potentially is an honor. 

“Just keeping on working hard, keep achieving your goals and believing in God,” said Vontrez Roberts. “Because God helped me get here today.” 

“I played basketball for this organization since the seventh grade, all the way up to the 11th grade,” explained Justin Stevens. “Just being able to earn this scholarship potentially means a lot to me.”

Roberts and Stevens are headed off to college. They hope they can take Eric with them… at least in spirit.

“To be able to care out her son’s dream through somebody else shows a lot,” said Stevens.

Roberts told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson, basketball is more than a game.

“With basketball, you have losses and all of that, but you have to learn to have to persevere through all of that, just like life,” explained Roberts.

Eric’s mother says next year will be a slam dunk!

“2020 is going to be off the chain as the young people would probably say,” said Simon. “Just wait and see CSRA.”

The Eric J. Smalls basketball tournament tips off Friday 6 pm at Riverside Middle School. The Tournament will continue through the weekend at Augusta Prep.

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