AP NEWS

YMCA, Community Team Up to Assist Lowell 8-year-old’s Dream

February 26, 2019
Amara Freeman as he practices at the gym recently. Courtesy photo Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

LOWELL -- The 8-year-old sporting a Nike headband, a Steph Curry “Go To Work” Under Armour shirt and Batman socks shows off his skills around the gym Sunday morning.

Passing the half-court line on the basketball court, Amara Freeman Jr. dribbles between his legs, then smoothly crosses over before sliding over to the left corner of the three-point line and launching a shot -- a la Curry.

Nothing but the bottom of the net -- again, like the NBA star he admires.

Amara’s special talent was on full display at the Greater Lowell YMCA Sunday, as the community came together to raise money for him and his family to travel to elite basketball games across the country.

The third-grader who attends Pyne Arts Magnet School has been selected for a national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team. The top players in the country compete in this league, and the best of the best eventually make it to the NBA.

AAU players are required to travel to tournaments across the country, and pay for their own accommodations. Because of financial constraints, the family sought donations from the community at the YMCA Sunday.

“We’re so excited about this turnout,” the boy’s father, Amara Sr., said at the fundraising tournament. “The YMCA has been so, so helpful. We’re just incredibly thankful for them.”

All together, the family of five is looking to raise $15,000 for travel, lodging, food and other expenses.

The AAU team will be playing games in California, Florida, Maryland, Arkansas and elsewhere around the country.

“Every little bit helps,” said Greater Lowell YMCA CEO Kevin Morrissey. “Amara is a Y product, and we support the kids that come through our doors.”

Dekontee Faikai, the Greater Lowell YMCA’s youth and teens director, thanked attendees for their support of the Freeman family.

“As a community, it’s important to come together to support Amara and his family,” he said.

The sharp-shooting guard has been playing basketball, typically for two hours every day, since he was 4 years old.

The family will frequently stop at any basketball court that’s open, and empty their car with the items for drills and games. Amara also practices at the YMCA.

“He’s really blossomed,” his mother Kali Diggs said.

Amara Sr. pointed to his son’s work ethic, always putting in a lot of time and effort.

“It’s what I’m most proud of,” his father said. “He’s a hard worker above everything.”

Amara will play against fourth graders in the AAU league, playing up from third grade, his father said.

The competition will be tough, he’ll go through his bumps and bruises, but he’ll come back better, Amara Sr. added.

Amara has a brother Amali, 6, and a sister Kaymara, 10.

“I’m so excited for him,” Kaymara said.

When asked if he was excited to play for the AAU team, Amara -- focused on his next shot from three-point land -- nodded his head in approval.

Why has he improved so much over the years?

“Practice,” he said before driving in for a layup.

To donate to the Freeman family, visit www.gofundme.com/amara039s-aau .