Ricardo Edwards, co-founder of the Old Harbour Basketball Academy is grateful. “The students of the Kevon Godfrey Basketball Academy were elated upon receiving the sneakers from some wonderful persons living in the USA who I refer to as friends of the academy. I am happy to see the joy and hope it brings,” said Edwards, who is also coach of the Old Harbour High basketball team. “Some may say how one pair of sneakers can do that, but it opens the door for them to see the possibilities that are before them that that pair of sneakers might be the game changer in their lives.” He added: “I am grateful to those who made it possible that may help one life saved, which may save a family, a community and even a country.” The men are now hoping their benevolence will gain additional support to enable them to help more children, who through the sport can achieve their dreams. “My imagination has no limits brother,” said Bonitto in response to the positive impact their charitable deed is likely to create back home. “We intend to take it to wherever it leads us. There are so many kids that love the sport, and if they have resources, something as simple as sneakers, basketballs, facilities, etc, the possibilities are endless.” Plans are also in the pipeline to stage in December an inaugural invitational basketball tournament to honour the memory of Kevon Godfrey, who died from cancer in August. Godfrey, past student of Old Harbour High, earned a US basketball scholarship last year, before his untimely death.
His immeasurable faith was a true testimony to those around him and those who came in passing conversation with him. Without doubt his family, friends and community have lost a beautiful soul who inspired them all. “I saw Kevon for the last time three days ago; my heart is in pain to see a child's dream taken away. I have lost a basketball son. Word cannot express what I am feeling. He fought a courageous battle with mom Sharon Hemley at his side. I saw greatness in Kevon and felt the need to help him to fulfill his dream,” said Jamaican-born African American Michael Williams, another one of Kevon’s mentors. Writing on Facebook, Dr Mark Broomfield, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association, commented: “I am really saddened by his death but I am motivated by the strength of his mother and this young man who showed joy even through the pain. We have lost a great soul.” Hundreds of condolences have been pouring in since the shocking news about the boy many called ‘Ears’ – due to his obviously large ears – had died. Even his opponents are touched. “We were rivals from two different schools in basketball, you were a true competitor and always showed good sportsmanship,” said Mickhail Treasure of York Castle High in paying tribute on behalf of their basketball team. “You played the game with passion and pride and you made your school and the Northern Conference proud.” Godfrey’s passion for basketball was evident from a tender age, based on anecdotes from those close to him. He promised his mother that he would be future star one day and transform his and her life for the better. He was on that road for sure in the eyes of many, until his untimely passing. “Kevon brought us a short moment of joy. I saw in him a future NCAA Division One basketball player,” said Williams who scouts Jamaican talent for teams in the United States. “If there are any more Kevon Godfreys out there I want to find them.” “My prayers and condolences go out to the Godfrey family in this time of bereavement. I pray that God strengthens you in this time and give peace and comfort,” added Edwards, a church minister, who also took part in Godfrey’s baptism. “I have been privileged to have known Kevon and worked with him. My heart hurts right now. But on behalf of the Old Harbour High basketball family I want to say thank you for lending him to us. He was a son, brother and friend. He made a great impact and most of all gave his life to the Lord.” The funeral service of the late Kevon Godfrey will be held at the Church of Christ, Marlie Acres, Old Harbour on September 2, 2017, starting 1:00 pm. The viewing of the body starts 11:00 am, while interment is at the Church Pen Cemetery.
Kevon Godfrey led all scorers with a game high 15 points and six steals. Godfrey’s teammate Joel Allwood had eight points and 12 rebounds, while Jordan Campbell registered six points and four rebounds in a very one-sided affair. In senior’s action, Old Harbour received very little competition as they ran to a 66-23 win over St Mary’s Brimmer Vale. Nicoloy Bailey and Rojay Hamilton demonstrated great all-round ability – the former banking 22 points, effecting five steals, 15 rebounds and eight block shots; while the latter recorded 20 points, had nine steals, seven rebounds and four assists.
Since arriving in the States, the trio has been doing “extremely well” Edwards informed Old Harbour News. In providing an update on the trio, Edwards said: “Junior Graham is actually on the honour role of Lutheran Christian School in Long Island. Joel Bailey and Willesley Butler: They are dominating in Boston, being featured in magazines. “It speaks volumes to the programme here because they just left here in November. The programme doesn’t stress sport alone, it also stresses academics and the academic is a key factor of our basketball programme.” Lynch and Redwood will immediately leave at the end of the Jamaica academic school year. Coach Edwards has commended Jamaican-born Michael Williams who has been instrumental in securing all scholarships so far. CLICK here to LIKE OLD HARBOUR NEWS ON FACEBOOK
For Francis though, he had to conquer more than just his game. In 2009 he had to do surgery on his left knee. The injury was a devastating blow for him both mentally and physically, as it came at a time when he just graduated from the University of Rhode Island and the prospect of playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was at the forefront of his mind. However, the surgery caused him to miss the 2009 NBA Draft. “My knee cap was shifting… and it slowed me down a lot,” he recounted the experience to Old Harbour News. “It took me about two years before I could literally play basketball again. My knee was so weak I have to do a lot rehabilitation.” Francis’ tough upbringing in the district of Spring Village in Jamaica seemingly had prepared him well enough, however, for circumstances like this. A dream shot at playing in the NBA had gone by now, and so the Rhode Island resident shifted his focus to American Football. “I play semi-pro for a team in Rhode Island. I did great. Obviously there was nobody out there as big as I am. After a game the guys from the other team would come up to me and say ‘yo, you are as big as hell’,” he said with a wry smile. He’d never tried playing American Football before not even when he was living in Jamaica, where rugby is a recognised sport, albeit in a minute manner. “It’s a sport (American Football) that I’ve always watched and would say to myself that ‘if they can do it then I can do it’,” he said. “I’m gonna go back to play when I get back overseas. The team is in training right now. Right now football season is about to start and when football season ends in November, basketball season start after that.” But his true love lies with basketball. Now a starting member for Providence Sky Chiefs in the American Basketball Association (ABA) – a second tier pro-league to the NBA – he tasted success in basketball for the first time in a very long while. Francis helped the Sky Chiefs, the first pro-basketball team in Rhode Island for 70 years, to win the Benrus Pro Basketball Championship as well as the ABA East Regional Championship. “We did big things. Nobody expected us to do that well and we brought home two trophies in our first season,” he proudly stated. “I don’t pay attention to that,” he said when asked about his personal performance, “because a lot of things people do in basketball doesn’t show up on the stats sheet. If I’m not scoring points nobody can come in my lane and make any simple lay-ups.” On October 15 this year, Francis will celebrate his 30th birthday. It’s a significant number for many professional athletes as usually it’s the start of their descent to retirement. But he isn’t looking towards watching from the fence just yet. Armed with a degree in criminal justice, he said: “I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’ve got some offers from overseas, but I like the ABA because it’s literally in my backyard. I can wake up and drive to practice, drive to games, so it’s the comfort zone to me. So if I’m going to get pay and is comfortable close to home then I’m going to do that. “As long as me knees allow me to. I’m not gonna put a timeline on when I stop play. I know guys who play until they’re 42, 43, so as long as I can do it I’m gonna do it. It’s something that I love doing and I can’t imagine getting up one day and not playing. I’m just gonna keep on playing until I can’t do it anymore.” CLICK here to LIKE OLD HARBOUR NEWS ON FACEBOOK