I always knew Neil was enormously successful and was very generous with his resources. Over the years, I knew of things he’d done to help some of the guys in BRAAS from time to time. I experienced it firsthand EVERY time we would meet for lunch.
Neil adamantly refused to ever let me pay for lunch. One time, I went to the bathroom and, on the way, slipped the waiter my card. When the check came and it was paid, he was legitimately mad at me. I am unaware of any other time Neil was visibly mad at me. He said, “I’ve already made all my money. You’re still making yours.” I never paid for lunch again.
But I never knew how far his generosity extended until after his death. Which, of course, is of no surprise. Many BRAAS guys relayed a story to me about how Neil checked in on them and offered financial assistance during trying times.
But two social media posts really summed up how he made an impact in youth sports.
One was when Neil approached the legendary Leo McClure to coach his son Brandon as he had done for his sons Trey and Todd. When Leo said that wasn’t possible, Neil gave him a check and told him to fill it out. And, with that check, the Louisiana Tigers youth baseball program was born.
Another was from another gentleman who was a youth baseball coach. He said in 17 years, there was never a Summer when Neil didn’t sponsor one or two of the kids on the team. This, even though Neil’s son Brandon only played for this coach for two years. All it took was a simple phone call and a stop by his house. All Neil ever asked for was a baseball signed by all the players and coaches.
It’s no wonder that Neil made such an impact in BRAAS. It’s difficult to say what BRAAStrong would have become if not for the efforts of Neil in the early days of launching it. It is wholly fitting that the BRAAS Foundation has created a scholarship fund in Neil’s memory to continue helping kids, who might not otherwise, play ball.
His family is aware of this scholarship. They are honored and they thank the BRAAS Foundation and BRAAS board members.
I would like to add my thanks to the men on those boards as well. Neil earned every bit of this and I hope we can make a difference in youth sports for decades to come.
Polk – 34