Patrick Marshall knows his son will be remembered by many people for his basketball.
But he wants them to know what Eric Marshall planned to do with his gift.
Eric, a former Greenbrier High School standout who played basketball at Wofford, died April 22 after collapsing during a pickup basketball game. An autopsy indicated his death was caused by an enlarged heart.
He was a housing program coordinator with Richmond County Housing and Community Development and was to be Greenbrier's assistant basketball coach next year.
But Eric's bigger ambition was Reach for Him, a nonprofit organization with the goal of ministering to Augusta's youth through summer basketball camps, one-on-one mentoring and a scholarship program.
Eric had a business plan, articles of incorporation and a board of directors.
"I don't want that to go away," said Tanya Marshall, Eric's wife.
She plans to continue what Eric started. The Eric Marshall Memorial Fund, which can be contributed to at any Wachovia bank location in the country, will be used to start a scholarship program.
Tanya's next step is to meet with the board members Eric had chosen and to try to find enough basketball-minded people to start camps in the summer of 2010.
"Those were his goals," Patrick said. "He wanted to reach kids. He wanted to win them to Christ and at the same time help them educationally and help them build social skills."
Patrick, a retired U.S. Army sergeant first class, said his son became a Christian while a freshman a Wofford. Soon after, he helped start SoulJahs for Christ, a campus ministry.
Tanya met her husband in a freshman Spanish class and said he was at first quiet and reserved. She said she saw a transformation that came with his newfound faith.
"His face looked brighter," Tanya said. "He was excited all the time. He was talking about all this new stuff he was learning."
Eric proposed during the couple's junior year at Wofford, and they were married soon after graduation in 2007. Tanya said he chose to return to Augusta because he wanted to reach the youth in the area through basketball.
Eric led his Glenn Hills Middle School team to an undefeated season. Patrick was later stationed in Hawaii, where Eric was runner-up for state player of the year as a sophomore and led his team to the brink of a title.
The family moved to Grovetown in 2001, and Eric waited to play for the Wolfpack while the family built a house and established residency.
He led Greenbrier in a transformation that likely would have resulted in a state playoff berth had Eric not injured his ankle late in the season.
"He was the total package," said Greenbrier athletic director Garrett Black, who coached Eric and the Wolfpack boys team. "The kid could score, he could use both hands, he could take you off the dribble, he could hit the 3-pointer, he could take you down low. Best defensive ball player I've ever coached on the boys side. (He) just got after it on defense."
After Eric was chosen to assist incoming Greenbrier basketball coach Casey Heckathorn, Black said he and Eric spent time reminiscing about some of the Wolfpack's finer moments with Eric at the helm.
There was the 2001 Christmas tournament, where he led the Wolfpack to the title soon after donning the uniform for the first time, and his key role in loss to Evans that went into triple overtime.
During his senior year, the Wolfpack were 16-1 and playing at Statesboro for the top spot in the region. Black remembers that at halftime the score was 32-28, with Eric having matched Statesboro's point total.
Eric injured his ankle in the first minute of the second half, and left Wolfpack fans to wonder what could have been.
He played in 83 games at Wofford and averaged 10.4 points per game, despite being slowed in his final two seasons after tearing his ACL.
Wofford coach Mike Young, in an e-mail sent shortly after he learned of Eric's death, said that he would remember Eric for the person he was off the court.
"Hope this ... adequately expresses my respect and love for him," Young wrote. "He was a big-time man."
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