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Photos courtesy of Shea Communications
Photos courtesy of Shea Communications
Thomas Verveniotis with Michelle DeBusschere and Peter Debusschere.

Young Bay Ridge resident Thomas Verveniotis was king of the court at the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’ thanks to his love for basketball and his hard work both in and out of the classroom.

The 12-year-old student who attends William McKinley Junior High School, I.S. 259 and is a member of Troop 715 of the Boy Scouts was the recipient of the 2018 New York Knicks Dave DeBusschere Award. The honor is presented each year during a game to two middle school students — one boy and one girl — for excelling on the court, in the community and in the classroom.

The award is also meant to recognize an individual who exemplifies “the heroic characteristics of the late great Dave DeBusschere,” a member of the champion Knicks of 1970.

“I was shocked and excited at the same time,” said Verveniotis on his selection. “I remember I had just come back from basketball practice and my mom just told me the news and I was excited because my mom said they were going to host a clinic, I was going to be interviewed on MSG Network and I never expected to win.”

His mother Helen nominated him for the award.

“In the application process they asked questions like what he was involved with, activities in the community, his GPA,” she said. “I was so excited. I thought it was a sales call. I wasn’t shocked because I knew he was very deserving of it. When I read the requirements for it, it read Tommy.”

Verveniotis, a sixth grader, loves being part of the Boy Scouts, which helps him give back to the community.

Thomas Verveniotis (1)

“Boy scouts is so awesome,” he said. “I get to learn different skills that will benefit me in life. I get to meet new friends especially since I’m younger. I get to hang out with older kids and even though there’s not a sport, it’s still fun competition.”

The volunteer aspect has really taught the youngster a valuable lesson.

“I work with Holy Cross Outreach Center where we help homeless people,” he said. “Usually, we make sandwiches and make care packages and the older kids hand them out. Currently, I’m working on a merit badge for citizenship in the community and it requires eight hours of service. Right now, I’m contacting all these companies for donations and I think in a month they’re going to give all of this stuff to the homeless. I feel good about it. It makes me feel happy because they don’t have the chances we get everyday. We’re giving them an opportunity to live a better life.”

Verveniotis is also is part of the Greek Orthodox Basketball League and enjoys being involved with several activities at his school.

“It’s a great environment at. the school. There are great teachers, I have good friends there. There are a lot of afterschool activities,” he said.

When he gets older, Verveniotis wants to be a sports agent.

“I love being around sports and I won’t be risking my body by doing it,” he explained. “I’ll be able to deal with all the different athletes.”

During the ceremony at Madison Square Garden on Monday, April 9, Verveniotis was joined by the DeBusschere family and was also able to meet National Basketball Hall of Fame member, Bernard King.

“I was a little nervous but also excited at the same time. When I was in the seats I was so scared but when I went to the court I calmed down,” he said. “I would say my favorite part was being interviewed on MSG.”

His dad Steve also expressed how proud he was of his son.

“It was a proud parent moment,” he said. “You always want your kids to do better than you. It was really nice. You don’t expect it to happen. The DeBusschere family were a big part of selecting Thomas so to know they put time into hundreds of applications that were sent in, it meant a lot. His love of sports and involvement of scouts with all the volunteer work, he doesn’t complain about or mind doing. He puts his all into it. He loves helping people and it’s great to see him recognized for all his work.”

His mother agreed.

“It’s is one thing to feel it as a mother, but it’s another thing to receive a call that other people feel that way too,” she said.

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