The Blanche Ely basketball team must have turned heads walking through the airport as they arrived in New York for the DICK’S Sporting Goods High School Nationals on Wednesday. They were decked out in matching white sweatsuits with the school logo, new sneakers and backpacks.
The Tigers from Pompano Beach, Fla., were “looking like a team,” as assistant coach Reginald McNair put it on Twitter with photos of the team at the airport and its hotel in New York.
For that, they can thank Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson. The two-time All-Pro is a 2008 graduate of Ely and donated the Under Armour gear as a way to give back to the school and community.
“I wanted to send my high school team to Nationals in style,” Peterson said Wednesday night.
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But there’s more to it than that:
“Growing up, I always had great role models that would constantly be donating their time and resources to our community,” Peterson said. “They really laid the groundwork for me and instilled in me how important it is to give back.
“Now that I am in position to make a difference it’s an honor to be able to support Blanche Ely. They deserve it.”
Ely, the undefeated Florida 7A state champions, opens play in the DICK’S Nationals Thursday against Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) at noon ET. It is Ely’s third appearance in the event.
Peterson was a running back and defensive back on the Ely football team and was named the ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior by USA TODAY after posting five interceptions and 21 tackles. He was ranked among the top five prospects in the country by Rivals.com while in high school.
Peterson also was a star sprinter at Ely, running the 100 meters, 200 and the 4 x 100 relay.
He played football collegiately at LSU, where he was named a first-team All-American as a junior. He declared for the NFL draft and was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Cardinals in 2011 and has gone on to a stellar pro career in leading the staunch Cardinals defense. He signed a five-year, $70 million contract last summer.