CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCMH) — Columbus native A.J. Davis has been a standout on the basketball court ever since his days at Linden-McKinley High School.
He played college basketball at Wyoming and James Madison with the hopes of playing professionally, which he did overseas in Iraq before returning home to be a father to his daughter, J’Oni, and play for the minor-league Columbus Condors.
Davis, 33, was in his fourth year with the Condors as one of the team’s best players, but tragedy struck in May when he was hit by a vehicle on the ramp from South Hamilton Road to Interstate 70 while trying to provide food to a homeless man.
According to a crash report released by the Ohio Department of Public Safety, the driver “appeared to show signs of impairment from alcohol and or drugs” when she struck Davis, who got pinned to the back of his car.
The impact to Davis’ lower body was so severe that doctors had no choice but to amputate both legs to save his life.
“He’s always smiling, always trying to think positive,” Condors general manager Cordaryl Ballard told NBC4 one day after the accident. “Given what’s happened, I think he’s going to have to keep that. We’re going to have to help him keep that smile that he brings out in everybody and help him keep that joy for life.”
Davis’ James Madison family was able to help him find that joy this past weekend when their alumni team, Founding Fathers, appeared in The Basketball Tournament, an annual ESPN-televised competition with a $1 million prize.
Members of the Founding Fathers reached out to Davis, asking him to coach the team, but he did much more than that in the team’s opening game against Sideline Cancer on Sunday.
Davis, in a wheelchair, led the Founding Fathers onto the court and remained for the opening tip, which was batted out of bounds, allowing Davis to be showered with applause from fans inside the Charleston Coliseum.
The Founding Fathers, a 16-seed in TBT, nearly shocked the top-ranked Sideline Cancer, ultimately losing 80-77 in the single-elimination tournament.
A GoFundMe page was established the day after the accident and has reached just over $47,000 of the $60,000 goal to help pay for Davis’ medical bills and living expenses.
You can donate to the fundraiser by following this link.