Brunswick basketball team honors teammate battling traumatic brain injury

BRUNSWICK, Ohio – A Brunswick 8th grader who has been recovering from a traumatic brain injury was recognized before the varsity basketball game at Brunswick High School Tuesday night.

Kelly Ventura, who played basketball at Willetts Middle School, fell while setting up a basketball hoop at his home on November 24. He fractured his skull, broke several bones and tore two arteries, and he has been recovering at MetroHealth Medical Center, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help with medical costs. (Click here to view the page.)

Kelly's fall happened exactly ten years from the day his father was killed in a car crash.

Kelly’s mother, Sabrina Ventura, said he has been playing basketball since he learned to walk.

“It's everything. He plays in the snow; he plays in the sleet. It’s like the mailman. He'll play basketball whenever,” she said.

Ventura said Tuesday marked Kelly’s first time out of the hospital, and he is expected to be discharged from the hospital at the end of the month, when he will begin outpatient rehab and homeschooling as he continues to recover.

Since the accident, Kelly’s classmates and teammates have rallied around him. Several visited him at the hospital and took him a game-winning ball from one of their games, according to a school spokesperson. They have also sported “Kelly Strong” t-shirts in support of him.

“We just miss him a lot, miss him being at our lunch table and at school, so it hurts really bad,” said basketball teammate David Hamrick. “We just want him to feel that we care about him. We know he's a strong person.”

Tuesday night, the basketball program honored Kelly before a 7:30 p.m. game. Kelly left the hospital to attend with his family members. Parents were selling wristbands and 50/50 raffle tickets to benefit the Ventura family.