MART, Texas — Five years ago, a Mart family experienced tragedy when 20-year-old Braeden Freeman was killed in a robbery gone wrong.
Now, his family is working to make sure his legacy lives on through a basketball camp and scholarship in his honor.
Saturday and Sunday, dozens of elementary and middle school-aged kids crowded into the Mart Middle and High School gymnasiums to participate in the Braeden Freeman Memorial Scholarship Basketball Camp, held by several of Freeman's close friends and family.
"Coming down to contribute to something like this, it really just warms my heart to be a part of it," Freeman's close friend Xavier Rosas said.
Volunteers led kids in passing, shooting and dribbling drills, something they say Freeman would have loved.
"I think basketball is a great way to honor him," Braeden's cousin Kaymee Gooden said. "We were always playing, always shooting when we were growing up, so this is just a fantastic way to remember him."
Freeman was an avid sports fan, and according to his friends, basketball was his favorite.
"He'd have been in the middle of all of it, playing with all the kids, goofing off with all of the kids and all of his friends that are here working," Savannah Freeman, Braeden's sister said. "So I can just see him floating around the gym sometimes in the middle of all of it."
Rosas said he clearly remembers the day he learned the news of Braeden's passing. He says he hung up the phone multiple times, refusing to believe the news about his friend.
"I think at that moment I just didn't want to believe it, that something that bad could happen to someone so good-hearted," he said.
In the years since, Freeman's family has raised money for an annual $1300 scholarship, awarded to a graduating Mart High School senior. The basketball camp helps raise money for that scholarship.
"Kids loved Braeden, so to be able to give back like this that helps generations coming forward, it just means that much more," Rosas said.
The camp and scholarship are just more pieces in the legacy Freeman's family hopes to leave in Mart.
"Sometimes it's a little sad thinking about him not being here and how much fun it would have been if he were here to see it, but it's also a lot of joy to be able to see the smiles on these kids faces and to get to do this in memory of him," Savannah said.