Basketball tournament to honor Buchanan man, fraternity that supported him

BUCHANAN — Avery Brown, of Buchanan, would have turned 30 Feb. 24, but gun violence prevented that from happening in 2018.

Brown’s relatives, however, intend to remember and celebrate Brown, his impact on others and the fraternity that supported him with the second annual Avery Brown Classic basketball tournament.

They will host the all-day event Sunday, Feb. 23 at Buchanan High School’s gymnasium, 401 W. Chicago St. Proceeds from its $10 tickets, concessions, food,

Avery Brown

raffle and merchandise purchases will be benefit the Avery Brown Scholarship, a $500 award given to a Buchanan graduate.

The tournament will come about six weeks after Brown’s killer, Timothy Mayberry, was sentenced Jan. 10 to 75 years in prison for first-degree murder and gun enhancement by the St. Joseph County, Indiana court.

Brown was celebrating a friend’s birthday Sept. 21, 2018, at the Bleachers Bar in Mishawaka when Mayberry shot him.

During the upcoming Avery Brown Classic, from tipoff at 10 a.m. to an awards ceremony near 6 p.m., 12 seven-man teams — eight men’s team, four women’s — will compete against their own gender in double elimination rounds.

Teams will find out who they play and when by next week, but all are encouraged to stop by the gym at 8 a.m. for check-in and team photos.

In between rounds, children registered for the event’s all-star challenges will compete to make baskets and score points at certain spots around the gym within a time limit.

Spectators can stop by as early as 9 a.m. to watch a photo collage dedicated to Brown, a music video about his death, a rap dedication by relative Kobe Brown and a speech by brothers of Brown’s Olivet College fraternity, Alpha Xi Omega, also known as Elite.

The basketball tournament is a reflection of what many remember Brown by, said relative Sonia Rodriguez. The 2008 Buchanan graduate played on both his high school and Olivet College basketball teams. Brown also cared deeply about his relatives and the communities he lived in.

“Avery was really, really big on kids participating,” Rodriguez said. “He was a big supporter of kids living their dreams, so we had to involve [children] in it.”

It was also why this year’s theme is centered on celebrating Elite. It was a group that deeply supported Brown and one which Brown deeply supported back, said Doug Freeman, a Buchanan graduate, Brown’s younger cousin and a lead organizer.

Elite members have supported Brown’s family through some of their toughest moments, Freeman said. They were present during Mayberry’s court trials. They showed up at a candlelight vigil days after Brown’s death. They invited Brown’s mother, Linda, to a group dinner.

Some even attended family events, Freeman said. The fraternity became an extension of Brown, a reflection of his mentorship to his younger cousins.

“It kind of introduced small-town Buchanan to where you can have strong men, mentors in your life, things like that,” Rodriguez said. “[Brown’s] always been that for the younger cousins.”

In less than three weeks, Brown’s fraternity brothers will be present in the Buchanan community again. They will give a speech before tipoff at the basketball tournament.

Last year, the tournament brought people together in a way Rodriguez said she had never seen before. Buchanan graduates came from metro Detroit, Arizona, Georgia, even the Virgin Islands.

She said the fundraiser tournament is a great way to show support.

“People don’t know whether to send money, whether to send cards, whether to send flowers, whether to say anything,” Rodriguez said. “This is a chance.”

For more information, Rodriguez and Freeman said to visit the tournament’s Facebook page, facebook.com/averybrownclassic.

Those interested in donating to or sponsoring the event can contact Tamiko Brown at tamikolb@yahoo.com.