Damien Nash Celebrity Basketball Game

bball.jpgDamien Nash Celebrity Basketball Game and Life Celebration Gala, Riverview Gardens High school and the Old Rock House





Celebrating a life that still counts: Damien Nash (1982-2007)

Making the most of life can seem like a real challenge sometimes. We let ourselves get caught up in the mundane and routine of everyday living and forget about just how amazing this big world and the people in it can be. One man who never took life for granted was Damien Nash. Damien was a standout football player, starting with his high school career at Riverview Gardens High School through his days at the University of Missouri, and was even beginning to garner attention in the NFL. His young and bright life was cut short February 24, 2007, as he suddenly collapsed after a charity basketball game. The game was for the Darris Nash Find a Heart Foundation, a charity set up in the name of Damien’s brother who needed a heart transplant, and to help raise money for heart transplant research in general. Damien’s death was cardiac in nature and no chemical substances were ever found that could have contributed to his death. The exact cause is still undetermined.

Though he is now gone, Damien is still making the most of life through the Nash Youth Association. The NYA is an organization set up by Damien’s former high school rival and later teammate and close friend, Terrence Curry. Its purpose is to help kids in the St. Louis area with academics and athletics, to raise them up and not let their current circumstances hold them back. Terrence, a current hip-hop artist and former football standout in his own right, first met Damien in a Riverview Gardens-Kirkwood 1998 Missouri High School Semifinal game for rights to go to the class 5A championship game; Terrence played for Kirkwood and Damien played for Riverview Gardens. In the last moments, Damien won the game on a trick play. He would end his high school career with 5,395 rushing yards and 85 rushing touchdowns.

Terrence and Damien would meet again at the University of Missouri. Terrence hosted Damien when he was recruited by Mizzou. Damien attended the university and played ball for them averaging 5.0 yards per rushing attempt. However, both Terrence and Damien would find themselves battling injuries during their collegiate careers, and it was in the training room and on the track that their friendship really solidified. "Damien was a fun, high-spirited, focused guy who really cared about other people," says Curry. "Here was a guy living a comfortable lifestyle who wanted to give back to the community he came from. He wanted to help strangers he never even met."

Now two years after the passing of Damien, Terrence continues to celebrate Damien’s life with a charity basketball game and gala life celebration in his honor, hosted by the Nash Youth Association and 39th Avenue Music, LLC. The basketball game will take place at Riverview Gardens High School on March 7. There will be a pre-game autograph session at 1:30 p.m. with MU Football Tigers Derrick Washington, Carl Gettis and Hardy Ricks. Tip-off time will be at 3 p.m. Special guests will included NFL players Justin Gage (Tennessee Titans), Will Franklin (KC Chiefs), Brad Smith (NY Jets), Lawrence Maroney (NE Patriots) and Chris Morton (Tennessee Titans). Admission to the basketball game is $10, $7 if you also bring two canned goods. There will be door prizes for the first 100 guests and a chance to win $100. The gala starts at 8 p.m. at The Old Rock House (1200 S. 7th Blvd., 631040. The gala will be hosted by Terrence Curry and model Alli Nicole and will feature the NFL players and a variety of hip-hop artists. The gala is for ages 21 and over and costs $20 to attend, $40 for VIP status which includes drink specials and special access. Both the basketball game and gala are Zero Tolerance events.

The NYA has big plans for the future. It plans to build the Damien Nash Sports Complex in North County and eventually provide a yearly Damien Nash scholarship to a high school student. The concept of the complex will be a place for kids to go for athletics and academics. Terrence would like to carry on the vision he and Damien originally had: to give the youths of St. Louis a different perspective on life than they might currently be getting. To encourage them to work hard in both sports and academics and move past their current circumstances that keep many of them down, giving them the chance to fully celebrate life the way Damien Nash did.

All proceeds will benefit the Damien Nash Youth Association and the St. Louis Food Pantry. | Ryan Parker

For more information, contact NYA at 314-395-1562 or nashyouth@gmail.com. www.nyausa.com

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