BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Rival high school basketball teams dedicated their Friday night game to a fellow athlete who was critically wounded earlier this year and attendees got a game to remember that had nothing to do with the score.
The game was played at Oakland Mills, Larry Aaron’s former high school. Aaron was left paralyzed after being struck by a stray bullet at a New Year’s Eve party.
Few have seen him while he’s been in recovery, until now.
It began as any benefit would: a collection of donations during a rivalry basketball game centering around a noble cause.
The sale of #93 t-shirts and baked goods at the Columbia school went to Aaron’s family.
“We just decided as a community to rally around him and his family,” said family friend Lisa Zovko.
A former star athlete at the school, Aaron’s life forever changed on Dec. 31 when he was paralyzed after being struck by a stray bullet. All of it unfolded during a party at a home in Severn.
“This could have been anybody’s child anybody’s kids that were at this party,” Anne Arundel County Police. Lt. Ryan Frashure said on Jan. 2.
His family says Aaron was trying to shield his girlfriend when the shots were fired. Authorities are still searching for the gunman.
Aaron was home for the holidays after completing his freshman football season at Marshall University in West Virginia.
Despite the match being considered a rivalry game, both teams showed support of Aaron, sporting “93 Strong.” The message took on a whole new meaning when Aaron showed up.
Emotions quickly took over as Aaron was surrounded by a legion of fans and friends chanting his name. He also greeted each player before the big game.
His parents, Larry and Melissa said, “It’s touching, you know, very touching. It was amazing.”
If you ask anyone who won the game, the answer is pretty clear.
Aaron was too emotional to speak to WJZ, but his parents say his rehab is going well and he’s looking forward to the next chapter in his recovery.