Baytown family donates hundreds of basketballs to Houston elementary school in honor of late son

BAYTOWN, Texas – Basketballs galore.

In fact, the Crianza family of Baytown has 300 basketballs they want to give to kids who need them. It’s a cause near and dear to their hearts.

“John,” said Johnna Crianza. “He was killed in an accident five years ago.”

John is Johnna Crianza’s son who was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2015. John was a huge basketball fan and every year since his death, his family has organized a drive before the holidays to get basketballs in the hands of kids who can’t afford them. John’s 7-year-old son Carter says it used to be easy.

“A couple of years ago we got a wagon and put a lot of basketballs in it,” Carter said. “And we went to the park and gave them away.”

The Crianzas used to donate all the balls to the police and fire departments to give to kids at Baytown’s Thanksgiving parade. This year -- because of COVID-19 there’s no parade. So there’s no one to give the basketballs to -- to honor John’s memory.

“Anywhere that will take them we will be very grateful to give them,” Johnna said. “But we want then to go to children that are in need.”

The drive usually lasts about six weeks and family, friends and Baytown residents have responded by donating hundreds of basketballs each year. As Carter gets older, he’s starting to “take over” the operation of the drive and distribution. They’re hoping to continue in 2020.

On Wednesday, the family chose James B. Bonham Elementary School in Southwest Houston for their annual giveaway.

“When the holidays come every kid deserves a toy at least one toy they can get. If there’s more then we give them out but at least a toy and they get really excited,” said Helen Vega, wraparound resource specialist at James B. Bonham Elementary.

Teachers at the school help put together a toy giveaway each year for students.

“Kids need to be out there, being active, especially something as small as basketball. It’s very kind so we do appreciate the donations and thank you,” said parental guardian Sha’Daysha Washington.

“I don’t care if it’s a crazy little basketball to put that smile on that face is what my son would be all about,” Crianza said.

Johnna Crianza said a few more organizations will get basketball donations too. If you would like to donate click here.

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