Basketball showcase raises money for scholarship fund honoring slain former Central High athlete

Eight months after a former St. Paul star student-athlete was killed in a senseless shooting, his family and the Central High community are trying to memorialize Ford in a special way through an athletic scholarship fund.

Dion Ford was a superstar in high school, scoring 1,000 points on the basketball team and rushing for a thousand yards for the football squad. His loss was crushing to this community.

His former coach is now trying to raise money for a scholarship in his name. One way to do that is a hardwood showcase bringing high school basketball teams together.

Scott Howell has coached the boys varsity basketball team at Saint Paul Central for more than two decades. That’s a lot of players and a lot of teams, but he will never forget the pure athleticism and magnetic personality of Dion Ford.

"This kid could jump," said Ford. "He could run. I mean, he didn't run track, but he'd probably be one of the best high jumpers that they probably had out there. I mean, he was just that kind of athlete."

Ford was killed in a shootout at this troubled corner grocery along Maryland Avenue in the capital city. According to authorities, Xavion Bell attempted to rob Ford. A concealed carry permit holder, in his vehicle. The men exchanged gunfire and Ford was killed.

The brazen attack brought the-then police chief to the scene a day later. While Ford’s loved ones committed to doing something positive in the young man’s name, launching a Dion Ford Athletic Scholarship.

"He was one of those kids that's very well known, you know, and he was that he was just an infectious whiz kid that just kind of grew on everybody."

Coach Howell reports ford’s fund already provided $1,500 scholarships to five deserving Central student-athletes in the spring. Now he’s organizing a high school basketball showcase on campus this season with proceeds going to insure these scholarships will continue to provide more and more opportunities.

"It's our goal to give four or five scholarships to deserving students every year, deserving athletes here at Central every year," said Coach Howell. "And so we got a different bunch of different fundraisers and things that we're doing to raise money to continue that."

Coach Howell is targeting January 21 at Central for the Dion Ford basketball showcase, again with proceeds supporting the scholarship effort.

The coach says they are still looking for more teams to sign up and compete -- so coaches take note.