FORT MYERS, Fla. — In June of 2016, 18-year-old Stef’An Strawder turned heads in the first basketball showcase. Then a month later, he was tragically killed.
The Lehigh Acres Student, along with 14-year-old Sean Archilles, who also enjoyed basketball, were both murdered in the Club Blu shooting.
But since then, Lieutenant Sylvester Smalls with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office has made it a priority to honor Stef’An & his love for basketball through the basketball showcase.
“Stef’An participated in the first one in 2015. He was the MVP in June that year, and in July, he was murdered. So we got together with his parents & named it in his honor,” said Lieutenant Smalls.
The showcase allows players from all over Southwest Florida to display their skills in front of college scouts.
Lieutenant Smalls said Stef’An’s legacy has opened the door for many after him.
“The tournament was actually started for Stef’An & a couple of other kids back in 2015. They weren’t getting too much college exposure, and then we got together with some schools, and they came and watched them play,” said Smalls.
“His legacy has created the opportunity for many kids locally in the area. I think the participation list is about 50 that have gone on to earn college scholarships, and out of that 50, I would say about 40 have graduated,” Smalls stated.
It was a free event & was held at the new Gateway High School.