From the outset of this weekend’s activities, NFL All-Pro and Statesboro High Alum Justin Houston made it clear why he holds a celebrity basketball event and football camp in his hometown.
“One little thing can help change a kid’s life and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Houston said. “You hope saying one little thing can stick with him the rest of his life.”
While it’s true Houston wanted to change the lives of kids, there was one 19-year old who’s life was undoubtedly changed forever following Friday’s celebrity basketball game. Myles White, a Statesboro alum in his own right and freshman on the Brewton Parker College basketball team, had a night he said he’ll never be too old to forget.
Following the celebrity game, the “Pros” team matched up against the “Boro” team in a three-point shootout. Come the final round it came down to two people for the win, White and NFL All-Pro wide receiver AJ Green — a state championship basketball star in his prep days at Summerville High School in Charleston, S.C.
After hitting six three’s in the first round, Green could only muster two in the finale — leaving White to hit just three to give the Boro a vengeance win after they were beaten by the Pros 75-53 just 15 minutes prior. White would double the total he needed to win by nailing six three’s to seal the win for the Boro, but the night of highlights wasn’t over for the young man.
Following the three-point shootout fans spilled out from the home-side bleachers for a chance to win a 1000 dollars or a new pair of sneakers in the last event of the night: the free throw contest. Fans got one shot and if they sunk it, they got to come back and shoot another. The line for the over-18 entrants started at halfcourt and wrapped around to the court entrance on the back baseline to total almost 100 participants.
It took six rounds, but White would sink every single shot without the ball even grazing the rim. Even on his final shot when Houston himself was laying out 50 dollar bills on the ground while a cast of NFL players past and present danced and clapped around him, White sunk it to become a 1000 dollars richer Friday night.
“I can’t wait to get back to college so I can tell my teammates about this,” White said. “Tonight was fun, it’s been a minute since I’ve played in front of a crowd like this.”
White didn’t exaggerate on the crowd size either. He along with a handful of Statesboro hoopers like Cameron Harvey, Daniel Cooper and Tyler Goodman had only played in front of crowds this size during playoff games. But when a cast of professional athletes come to town and the event is of no cost, why not show up if not for a minute?
White, Goodman and his teammates started off the night matching up with the likes of Green, Houston, Denver Broncos All-Pro Demaryius Thomas, former Georgia stars Jarvis Jones and Prince Miller to just name a few. Even as it was clear the Pros were going half-speed against the high schoolers and college kids, everyone was wearing a smile.
But that didn’t mean the game was void of entertainment. Green scored 24 point without breaking a sweat while throwing down a windmill dunk on a breakaway and jumping above the him to block a fast-break layup on the other end. Still, it won’t be a night guys like Goodman will forget.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get old enough to stop talking about tonight,” Goodman said, who also won a pair of sneakers by winning the free throw contest for the under-18 division. “I’ve never had guys that famous in my face playing ball.”
The pro athletes in attendance like Green come from similar situations like Houston, which is why they put aside their time to come and help their friend out. Green and Houston fostered a friendship while teammates at the University of Georgia and it showed out on the court Friday night.
“Anything I can do to help my boy to help the kids around here is worth it,” Green said. “Even if it’s just one kid on the right path, it’s worth it to me for coming down here.”
Houston and his buddies will have another shot at changing kids lives this morning when they hold Houston’s football camp bright and early at 9:00 am.