Debra Williams said "death doesn't have the last word" at in 2011, and the sights and sounds at La Salle High School on Saturday proved her right.
Instead of words about death, words like "D up!" or "Pressure, pressure!" or "Good shot!" filled the gym, punctuated with the sounds of squeaking sneakers and the constant pounding of basketballs on hardwood.
This was the backdrop for the second annual Brandon Jackson Basketball Shootout, a hoops tournament named after the
The funeral of Jackson, who lived in Altadena, brought together hundreds in the community. Debra Williams and her husband David, both members of , organized the hoops tournament with the hopes that it has the same effect on the region. The teams who played ranged from young ballers from Burbank to the varsity squads from La Salle and Arcadia high schools.
"It's about community and these kids playing together and learning from each other, and to appreciate what's being given to them," said David Williams said of Jackson, who was given the nickname "Franchise" from his coach at John Muir High School. "Brandon was a player of mine on my travel basketball team ... very hard worker, came from a challenging background, but turned things around to where he had a 3.7 grade point average. He always hustled, he was always coachable and he was just a really good example for these kids to follow."
Bob Pech, another one of the event's organizers, noted the four scholarship winners:
Rachel Ofili, Graduated from Pasadena High School, will attend Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.
Preston Mills, Graduated from John Marshall High School, accepted as a Posse Scholar to Tulane University in Louisiana.
Irene Arellan, Graduated from John Muir High School, will attend University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
Dennise Jackson, who maintained a high GPA after the loss of her younger brother. She graduated from John Muir High School and will be attending Cal State Monterey Bay. Her scholarship will be determined largely by the monies raised from raffle tickets sold at the event.