On Feb. 3, the Centennial versus Mt. Hebron basketball game was played in front of a sold-out crowd to raise funds for Larry Aaron, the victim of a devastating shooting in the community. On December 31, 2017, at a New Year’s Eve party in Severn, Maryland, the Oakland Mills alumnus and freshman at Marshall University was hit by a stray bullet while attempting to shield his girlfriend.
In a display of unprecedented unity, both Mt. Hebron and Centennial crowds wore white in support of Aaron and his recovery. White shirts were also sold to raise money for his recovery, and 100 percent of the profits went directly to Aaron’s family.
“It really broke my heart to hear about that story, and it made me feel really blessed to be an athlete and to be on my feet,” said Alex Nazaire, a senior on Mt. Hebron’s varsity basketball team. “The moment the team heard about the tragedy, we knew that we were dedicating the season to him, not just that one game.”
“I supported the idea as soon as I heard about it,” Nazaire continued. “[Senior] Erin Demek texted me that the girls would buy and wear the white shirts as warm-ups and asked if the boys team was interested. We said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ We were really glad to hear it sold out. I felt like the county could not have done better. The fact that the support came from not only Oakland Mills, but also from each and every Howard County public high school was remarkable.”
“When I heard about Larry Aaron’s shooting, I was both shocked and devastated,” sophomore Grayson Fleck said. “I attended the game to support his cause. I heard about the white out and I thought it was a great idea, so I wore all white to support Larry. I really think it was a fantastic way to show support for Larry and his family. Overall, I think it was great that we came together as a community to help Larry out.”
The Centennial-Hebron basketball game was not the only display of support for Aaron. Oakland Mills honored Aaron at their home game against Hammond on Feb. 2. Green shirts with “93 Strong,” which is the number Aaron wore for Marshall University football, were sold. Concession stand sales from this game were also contributed to Aaron’s family. Aaron himself was celebrated on the court during the announcement of the Oakland Mills starting lineup.
Other basketball games that supported Aaron included Reservoir versus Howard varsity girls and Marriotts Ridge versus Glenelg varsity boys, both on Feb. 2. The shirts sold for these games were the same shirts from the Hammond-Oakland Mills game and were worn during warm-ups.
The Howard County community came together to help Aaron through his recovery process, and thousands of dollars were raised to support him and his family.