NEW ALBANY, Ohio (WCMH) — The mother of a boy whose love was playing recreational basketball in New Albany has been honored with an award for the basketball court she envisioned and brought to life.

“Michael Lucey was my son, and he passed away at the age of 17 years old and he was a basketball fanatic,” said Lindsay Harris on a wintry day in February at the court on Bevelhymer Road. “He played for New Albany High School, and he also played a lot through the New Albany Parks and Rec program.”

Michael Lucey died in the summer of 2020 as a passenger in a car accident. He’d loved basketball since his mother took him to play as an 18-month-old toddler. When he was in high school, he organized a rec team with his friends — the Soupreme Team, which they nicknamed “Soup.”

So it was natural when Harris decided to raise money for a basketball court for local kids when she wanted to memorialize and honor her son.

Brian Smith, recreation superintendent for the New Albany Joint Parks District, began brainstorming with Harris about what the project would be.

“We started the project in late 2020 with some fundraising,” Smith recalled. “We really came up with the idea for two courts, and the shade structures around that time, when we were thinking about ways to memorialize Michael.

“Once we had our budget together, we started fundraising, and it all came together,” he added. “We were able to successfully build the memorial courts by May of 2021. We raised over $300,000.”

As a tribute to Harris’s dedication to creating the courts which will bring joy to players, provide shade in the summer, and places to picnic, Lindsay has been given the award for 2021 Ohio Parks and Recreation Citizen of the Year and will receive it Tuesday.

“Lindsay’s vision was ambitious,” Ohio Parks said when it announced the award. “What started as a single court, morphed into two courts, bleachers, shade structures, donor recognition areas, and landscaping. The community impact was immediate and immense.

“The facility was dedicated on May 21, 2021, and public usage began the next day, followed by summer camps and tournaments. Most importantly, Michael’s friends came to the courts daily. Many times, they came to play, but also to reminisce on the good times they shared with their friend.”

As Lindsay reflects on the memorial and her son’s death, she is firm on the message she wants to convey: That young people should never feel afraid to say “no.”