LAKEWOOD RANCH (WWSB) - It was more than just about basketball, it’s about the community coming together to help make a difference.
“Sports is just a dynamic and it creates such a brotherhood and fellowship of families,” said Mike Kelley, father of Jack Kelley.
That’s what helped bring out a packed gym for Wednesday night’s boys and girls all star basketball game between Manatee County and Sarasota County at Lakewood Ranch High School. All tickets sold at the door goes to help with medical expenses for Jack Kelley.
“I’ve said since day one that that has been the godsend to all of this, the prayer, the positive thoughts, the visits, the food trains, the GoFundMe, the fundraisers that this school has put on,” said Kelley.
The 19-year-old Kelley critically injured more than a month ago when his car flipped over several times after being struck by a hit and run driver. That driver was eventually found and arrested. This fundraiser was a no-brainer for his former high school basketball coach and teammates, especially since Kelley played in this same all star game a year ago.
“Our basketball program is like a family, so it was an easy decision for all of us to say let’s make sure that money goes to Jack’s family to try to help them with all their medical expenses,” said Jeremy Schiller, head basketball coach for Lakewood Ranch High School.
“It’s a shock because Jack’s such a strong person, it didn’t really seem like something like this can happen to Jack,” said Joshua Young, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School and Jack’s former teammate.
Also on hand for Wednesday night’s games were the family of Drevian Mays, the 17-year-old Braden River basketball player shot and killed last month by another 17-year-old. Proceeds from the sale of all the shirts sold tonight go to help pay for his funeral expenses.
“He was a great kid, he was a good athlete, we didn’t expect anything like this to happen to him, so we’re just thankful for all the support that we’re getting,” said Janiza Arguinzoni, a family friend.
As for Jack Kelley, he continues his recovery at a rehab facility in Atlanta. Mike Kelley says there’s a long way to go but he has made a lot of progress.
“He is doing fantastic, the hospital thinks that he is in one percent of people with that kind of traumatic type of injury of where he is right now," said Kelley. He is walking and when you have a conversation you would say nothing ever happened to him.”
In all, 518 tickets were sold. Combined with donations, Jack and his family received $3,578 from the event.