SALINEVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – On Sunday, family and friends of Brycen Douglas, of Wellsville, honored his memory with a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Douglas was just 20 years old when he was gunned down on a friend’s front porch back in 2021 in East Liverpool.
“As you can see, he was very loved and we’re just very thankful that everybody’s here to celebrate him,” said Traci Desenze, Douglas’ mother.
It has been two years since Desenze received the call that her son was murdered. We asked her how she wants her son to be remembered.
“What [a] great friend he was, you see, I’m going to cry. His heart, his love for basketball,” Desenze said.
Saturday was the third tournament held in honor of Douglas. The event was a 3-on-3 basketball tournament held in Salineville. Event organizers say the tournaments continue to grow and they are grateful for the community’s support.
“This is overwhelming for sure, it would be for him. It’s an amazing honor how our community comes together, not just whenever it happened but continue to just be our army,” said Shauna Pullie, event organizer and Douglas’ aunt.
Pullie says Douglas had so many friends from different cultures. He was an encourager and kind to everyone. We asked her why they chose a basketball tournament to honor her nephew.
“Basketball, Brycen was all about some basketball. He had a basketball in his hand by the time he was three years old and he did not put it down,” Pullie said.
In the first year of the tournament, there were 12 teams that registered. This year, there were 25. Event organizers say the registration fee is used for a scholarship in Douglas’ name.
“Essentially, the event is for awareness regarding gun violence, but we do offer a scholarship. The last two years, we have been able to provide a $500 scholarship to a Wellsville area student,” said Heather Desarro, event organizer.
Desarro says as the event grows, they hope to expand their scholarships to other schools and areas.
The event also featured a basket raffle, where the money raised also goes toward the scholarship fund.
We asked Desarro how the community can help.
“Support, awareness and communication, put out the reason and the cause behind what it is that we’re doing,” Desarro said.
Michael Shope, one of Douglas’ close friends, talked about Douglas’ case, which is still open.
“I pray that we get justice for him soon. I know when that happens, we all get a little bit of relief,” Shope said.
Saturday’s event was organized by the Brycen Douglas Foundation. All money raised goes toward scholarships for local seniors.