A standout basketball player for St. Mary's is proving to be a superstar off the court as well.
Darius Sparks is known in the community as a star basketball player.
But his success did not come easy growing up...
"My mother, she struggled with drugs and alcohol and that really wasn't good for me and my sister because, with her addiction she couldn't keep a job and she couldn't keep a home and so were moving around a lot growing up," says Darius Sparks, Senior, St. Mary's Central High School.
One school he attended for a short time was St. Bernard Catholic Mission School in Fort Yates.
Recently, his senior class went there on a retreat, and he reconnected with young people on the reservation.
He got to spend time with the kids...
"Gave them piggy back rides and played basketball with them and played tag and stuff like that, you know. Just seeing the smiles on their faces brought joy to me," says Sparks.
Now he wants to bring joy back...in a lasting way.
"The swings were broken, you know, there's no nets in the basketball hoops and the playground was kind of - it's pretty old and so what came to mind was having the idea to raise money for a new playground for them," says Sparks.
Darius, a high school senior-- made it his assignment to give the playground a makeover.
"Every little bit helps, every little bit. I said Darius if you could even get $10,000 dollars toward it we'll try, you know, we'll get people to help out. So, you know, he wants to shoot the moon. He'd like to see it all," says Father Basil Atwell, St. Bernard Catholic Mission School.
He shot for the moon... And just like in basketball...
He's raised around $12,000 so far.
"I'm at a place in my life where I have a great family. I have great friends and I have positive people in my corner so I can, and now that I do have that I want to do as much as I can to give back to the community and give back to people that go through the same struggles that I once went through," says Sparks.
From struggles... to success...
"There's good that comes from bad things. Because I've been through, you know, struggles but that made me who I am today. It motivated me to want to do better in my life," says Sparks.
He's setting a great example...on and off the court.
"People know his face now and they know that big smile of his and it goes kind of miles," says Atwell.
A smile that he's hoping will spread... with a really positive play.
"Once the kids see it, it'll just bring a big smile to my face for sure," says Sparks.
If you'd like to make a donation to the new playground, you can contact St. Mary's Central High School or St. Bernard's Mission School.
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