KINSTON, N.C. (WNCN) – The Freeman Rec Center has been a safe haven, a second home to Brandon Ingram and his father. It’s all paid off for Ingram, who has signed to play college ball at Duke.
Donald Ingram has shagged thousands of basketballs for his son at the tiny gym on the east side of Kinston.
“We’ll come to the gym, first stopping at McDonald’s to get something to eat,” Donald Ingram said. “We’ve been here as late as one, two o’clock in the morning.”
And that was just fine for Brandon. “I come in here any time I want to,” Brandon Ingram said. “I’m mostly here all the time.”
Brandon Ingram was lucky that he had a shelter in a town where others might have got caught up in trouble.
Kinston’s crime rate is much higher than the national average. Others have fallen prey to the small town’s temptations but not Ingram.
“It’s good to have someone come through and put a positive influence on the town and just pull that bad vibe off of it,” said Ingram’s high school teammate Kris Wooten.
From the barber shops to the playgrounds, Ingram was the talk of the town. The locals embraced him and followed his career. In fact, many felt a connection to Ingram and he became the pride of Kinston.
“There is a lot of people in the community that look out for me,” Ingram said. “They know where I’m going in life so they try to protect me and I surround myself with good people.”
Ingram embraced his role as the face of the small, down east town never shying away from his responsibilities.
“He’s someone for the kids who are in elementary school to look up to,” said Ingram’s high school coach Perry Tyndall. “those kids will process this moment and say, ‘I want to be the next Brandon Ingram and I want to do something special.'”
Anything is possible when big dreams are hatched in small places.
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