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Belleville's Gabe Brown is motivated to achieve greatness as he strives to honor his deceased father

Belleville's Gabe Brown is motivated to achieve greatness as he strives to honor his deceased father
BY: TJ KELLEY Jan 22, 4:26pm

Belleville - Year in and year out basketball players emerge through the opportunities presented by their coaches. 

In January of 2016, Belleville senior Gabe Brown got the call up to varsity after going on a scoring tear on the junior varsity level.  It was an opportunity for the then 6-4, 15-year old lefthander and he seized the opportunity as he led the Tigers in scoring in many games going down the home stretch and into the state tournament.

Since that time, Brown, now 6-7 and a versatile wing who is accurate from the 3-point range, has grown on and off the court earning him a scholarship offer from Michigan State last summer, which he accepted three days later.  Brown signed his National Letter of Intent this past November at Belleville High where much of his success began.

But the foundation of his success started at home with his father Charles Brown.

The future Spartan plays for a new purpose.

“The biggest step is my work ethic,” Gabe Brown said. “I won’t let (anybody) stop me from achieving my goal for my dad.”

But before he could watch his son complete high school and play in college, Charles Brown died in the spring of 2016, shortly after his son’s first scholarship offers in April. 

Brown said before that, his father’s death drew him close to quitting the game.  But giving up wasn’t a characteristic of Charles Brown.  And that wasn’t going to be a trait of Gabe Brown either as he credits his drive that help him persevere.

“(My father’s) willingness to work every day and never settle for less, and the characteristics he gave me to be a man,” Brown said. “To carry his legacy on and off the court, (and) carry his soul and body into mine.”

Belleville, as a team, has done some soul searching as their current 5-4 record doesn’t reflect preseason expectations. But Brown said sees maturity in his team.

“We are starting to become a family,” he said. “(We’re) starting to sit down and play defense and get out and run.  We are not fully there yet as a team but by the time February and March get here, we will be (ready).”

Belleville dropped three of its first four games but the Tigers have better recently winning four of their last five by an average of 25 points. The question is, is this the level of play we should expect from Belleville the rest of the season?

As of now it’s one step at a time. Brown has faith in his coach, Adam Trumpour, and the staff and is encouraged by his team’s recent streak.

“They are doing OK,” Brown said. “But (they) still coach us hard every day because they know we can do better every time we step out there on the court.”

The Tigers were ranked No. 3 in the preseason and have slid out of the top 10 after the first two weeks.  They also know that championships aren’t won in December and the learning process doesn’t come overnight.  

It's the future, not the past, that Brown is looking toward.

“Every game is a good game,” he said. “I can’t go out thinking (our) opponents are not that good because every team is a good team.  So, I’m looking forward to (playing) every team that’s on our schedule.

“Michigan basketball is great.  There’s competition all over the state and playing in the state, you got to show your toughness.  I feel we have the best basketball (team) but most people don’t recognize us.”

Time will provide the opportunity for Brown and his teammates to prove themselves.

Belleville has the talent to win the school’s first boys’ basketball state title.  Senior guard Davion Williams will join Brown in East Lansing but Williams will attend MSU on a football scholarship with a possible option to walk on the basketball team. Seniors Devin Alverson and Kaevon Merriweather are two of the state’s top unsigned guards. 

Brown’s top goal is to win the Class A state championship followed by surpassing 2,100 career points, a McDonald’s All-American nomination, the Hal Schram Mr. Basketball Award, earn first team all-state honors and break Belleville’s single-game scoring mark of 51, which is shared by Leon Freeman (2006) and Mike Garland (’73). Garland, a longtime assistant at MSU and former Belleville head coach (1986-94), led the recruitment of Brown.

Earlier this season, Brown accomplished one of his goals by being named a McDonald’s All-American nominee.  Brown’s work ethic could lead to other individual goals.

The determination of Belleville to play as a team and for each other will be needed for the Tigers to achieve the ultimate team goal, a state championship.