Community rallies to help man pursue dream of playing profession - WSMV Channel 4

Community rallies to help man pursue dream of playing professional basketball

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GRUETLI-LAAGER, TN (WRCB) - A Grundy County community is rallying around one if it's own, a man whose lifelong dream is to be a professional basketball player. 

23-year-old Justin Hampton has put in the hard work that's earned him a spot in front of pro team scouts throughout Europe. Now his small town is trying to knock down his last barrier-- coming up with the money for the trip. 

Gruetli-Laager resident and avid basketball player Justin Hampton has a shot most players never get. He's one of only 35 players in the country to make the USA Select Basketball Team with a chance to go pro in Europe.

"I didn't believe it. I thought it was a mis-email, that they'd sent it to the wrong person," Justin Hampton said.

But it wasn't a mistake, Justin earned it during a three-day, ten game tryout camp in Charlotte a couple weeks ago. By the end of summer, he'll be flying overseas to prove his skills to professional teams throughout Europe. 

"Playing in front of GM's and their scouts. We're playing the actual teams," he said.

"That's all he's ever wanted to do is just play basketball," his dad Parker Hampton said.

Justin has been playing since first grade, always working to get better.

"To see that he's taken initiative to try to fulfill his dream it makes you proud as a parent," Parker said.

He just quit his job at Piggly Wiggly to train full-time the rest of the summer.

"Everybody in the community has come together and wants to do fundraisers and help make sure he has everything he needs," his mom Sandy Hampton said.

Justin needs at least $4,000 to make the five week trip, which is a lot to come up with on short notice. His community is trying take on that burden, so he can focus on the game. 

"Grundy County gets a lot of bad publicity but when something goes on, they always pull together," Parker said.

"Telling me they're proud of me and congratulations. It's been very nice," Justin said, "Shows the kids in grundy county if you dream it and you put work into it that you can actually do it."

Justin says his strong point is rebounding. If a European team likes what they see in September, they can sign him on the spot. He says he's willing to go to any country that makes an offer. 

The community is organizing a fish fry fundraiser and a raffle. A Facebook page has been made to announce plans.

If you'd like to donate before then, email reporter Kimberly Barbour at kbarbour@wrcbtv.com for contact information. 
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