Coming Home


Coming Home

Chelsae Ketchum

LeBron James put Akron, Ohio on the map, giving young kids in Akron hope that, just like him, they have a shot at making it.

VannAubrey Thomas, 13, is one of those kids.

Thomas, who goes by the name Vann, and his brother, Anthony, grew up with their mother, Therese, and their father, Anthony Thomas Sr. On December 30, 2002, when Vann was only a year old and his brother was ten, their father was shot and killed in a bar. Anthony’s role quickly became more than just an older brother.

Vann grew up watching Anthony play basketball and began playing for Tiny Tots Youth Basketball when he was four-years-old.

“He stood out,” Therese said. “You knew that he was gonna be a force to be reckoned with.”

After Anthony graduated high school, he went to Santa Monica College in California on a basketball scholarship. Vann told him he was working hard and one day wanted to make it to the NBA. Anthony decided to leave his scholarship for his brother, come home and help him train.

They have been working toward Vann’s dream almost every day since Anthony came home. He picks Vann up from school and they go straight to the court for practice.

“He’s got that inner motivation that drives you,” said Coach Brunn, Vann’s school basketball coach. “He wants to do well. He soaks up the coaching…. He’s got those intangibles that set kids apart as far as being able to grow and go to the next level.”

Vann will begin high school next year at either Hoban or St. Vincent-St. Mary – his education comes first. High school could not only lead him to a college education, but a chance to play college basketball in the hopes of getting the NBA’s attention.