By Sam Wildow
TROY — Family and friends of a young boy whose life was taken too soon gathered on Friday evening at Duke Park to dedicate a basketball court in his name and memory.
Grant Gillespie, 11, of Troy, died as a result of his injuries from a car crash on Aug. 3, 2020, at the intersection of Troy-Sidney Road and East Peterson Road in Staunton Township. Grant Gillespie would have been a sixth-grader at Miami East schools this past school year.
The way Grant Gillespie lived was at the forefront of his loved one’s minds on Friday as his family, friends, and neighbors remembered the boy who quietly impacted those around him.
Neighbors remembered Grant Gillespie’s kindness and his ability to light up a room, as well as the sound of Grant Gillespie practicing basketball in his driveway — the memory of which inspired them to find a basketball court in need of rehabilitating that they could dedicate to him.
Autumn White, a neighbor and one of the organizers of the project, said many of the neighbors in the Nottingham neighborhood, as well as other family and friends, got together to raise approximately $1,500 to renovate a basketball court in Duke Park and dedicate it in Grant Gillespie’s memory. The city of Troy and others also donated labor and materials to the project. Part of the design on the court includes a painted “G” for Grant.
“This was Grant’s happy place,” Brian Gillespie, Grant’s father, said. Among Grant Gillespie’s interests was a love of sports and basketball as he played 5 Star Basketball at Miami East and AAU basketball.
Brian Gillespie spoke about how Grant Gillespie connected with his teammates during the pandemic, adding that while his son did not talk much, he made his actions count and his words count when he chose to talk.
“He was the guy that kept everyone together,” Brian Gillespie said. “He was like a magnet.”
Miami East Elementary School Principal Brian Rohrer remembered Grant Gillespie as a close friend of his own son.
“He was a kind and compassionate soul,” Rohrer said about Grant Gillespie. “He was someone to admire.”
Brian Gillespie said he hoped this basketball court would become everybody’s happy place, adding, “I’m glad Grant’s impact will make a difference … He was a shining light.”
Grant Gillespie’s brother, William Gillespie, took the first shot on the court with his parents, Brian and Marcella Gillespie, behind him.