AUGUSTA, Ga. — A year to the day after the tragic crash that took her son, Frankie Simon is honoring his memory by helping others.
“At the end of the conversation he said, ‘Mama’, I love you’. And I said, ‘I love you,too.’ In less than 45 minutes my whole life changed,” Simon recalled Wednesday of the last time she heard the voice of her 9 year-old son Eric Smalls on the afternoon of June 1, 2015. Minutes later the car in which he was riding was involved in a crash at the intersection of River Watch Parkway and Stevens Creek Road that took his life and the lives of two other young boys, John Powell, 8, and Quamaine Jones, 9.
“June first, which is today, was the last day I would get to hear his voice,” Simon said. “To know that happened 12 months ago today and that I’m actually still breathing shows me there is a greater power than ourselves. I do get up and I do what I need to do and most of it is in the name of my son.”
Smalls’ passion in his young life was basketball. He played AAU basketball with United Elite. Since his death, his mom has continued volunteering with the program. Working together they have created the Eric Smalls Memorial Scholarship. It will be awarded annually to a local student chosen by committee for their academic and extracurricular success, as well as their interest in basketball.
The first $1,000 will be awarded Thursday night at the Eric Smalls Memorial Banquet at Belair Conference Center in Martinez. The event will serve as an unofficial opening ceremony for the Eric Smalls Memorial Tournament, an AAU basketball tournament involving teams from across the Southeast that will be played at Evans High School and Riverside Middle School Friday through Sunday to raise money for future scholarships.
“We want to remember him as what he loved to do,” said Eric’s AAU coach Corey Warren. “He expressed so much through the game of basketball. I’m grateful to be a part of the time he did spend with us as part of the United Elite and Boys and Girls Club.”
A year to the day since she lost her son, Frankie Simon is working to make sure his nine years on this planet will never be forgotten. She says the lessons learned through her experience can help all parents.
“I just want to tell each parent don’t take any day for granted,” she said. “Love them, kiss them, hug them. Celebrate the moment and everything else will fall into place.”
WHAT: Eric Smalls Memorial Tournament
WHEN: Friday, June 3rd – Sunday, June 5th
WHERE: Evans High School and Riverside Middle School
MORE INFORMATION: 706-726-3074