Former professional basketball player Chris Eversley really has no connection to Saugus High School or even the Santa Clarita Valley, but he had no hesitation when Taylor Statham, Golden Valley grad and current pro player, asked him to take part in Sunday’s Pro All-Star game to benefit Saugus at Golden Valley High School.
Eversley is from Chicago and played college basketball at Rice University in Houston for a year before finishing his college career at Cal Poly SLO. He played pro ball in Malaysia, Germany and Belgium.
“None of us except for Taylor and some guys that live here, but we want to let people know that we stand with them,” said Eversley, currently the sports director at the Westlake Y. “I’m in Woodland Hills but I come out here for any reason like this, any Eason to be able to show the community that they’re not alone.”
Eversley was one of 22 male and female high-level basketball players with college or professional experience who came out to play in the all-star game.
Ron Harris, a Saugus alumnus who now helps coach the girls basketball team at Valencia, was one of the first people Statham reached out to when he hatched the idea of an all-star game. His players had already started wearing blue shoelaces and had made signs for Saugus, so when Statham reached out, it was an immediate yes.
“I was like, ‘dude, you should just do it,’ and so we reached out to as many people as we could and it just happened,” said Harris, who played at College of the Canyons and Greenville University. “This is all in a matter of a week”
Nearly 200 people from the community came to watch the game and a halftime dunk contest, which was punctuated with a dunk from the trio of Harris, Kwame Alexander, and AJ Rompez.
Alexander, who finished off the dunk, has played basketball in over 25 countries and has been a guest star on the TV show “Basketball Wives.” Rompez was a four-year starter at UCF.
Although the players all had different backgrounds in the sport, many had played either with or against each other at some point in their careers and all wanted to support Statham’s idea.
“Taylor is one of those people who is in it for the next generation,” Eversley said. “It’s not about him, it’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame. If you’re 4 and dribble a basketball he wants to help, if you’re 35 and still trying to make the league he’ll try to help.
“So the rest of us that are still home for whatever reason, we wanted to come out and show him the support that we have for him and everybody here has that same love of giving back, so it gave us an opportunity to meet in one central place after a tragedy.”