DALLAS -- The NCAA Men's Final Four championship weekend is expected to hundreds of thousands of fans to North Texas. It will also continue a tradition of leaving a lasting mark on the host city.
Tuesday morning, Dallas city leaders joined NCAA and Big 12 Conference as they unveiled a brand new basketball court at Exline Recreation Center in South Dallas.
“These folks don't feel the impact as much when we have an event like [the Final Four,]" Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. "It changes their lives, because they get a new gym to play in and it was a pretty ratty place."
Victor Ugolyn of the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation attended the ceremony Tuesday and said the new court is about giving back.
“You give as much as you can on the court, but you also give to the outside community,” Victor Ugolyn said.
Ugolyn has worked with the NCAA to refurbish inner city courts in the host cities for the tournament. It's a legacy of philanthropy he carries for his son, Tyler.
“Tyler was a gifted student athlete who played basketball at Columbia University and graduated in 2001, and unfortunately, was lost at the World Trade Center [on Sept. 11, 2001,]” Ugolyn said.
While at Columbia, Tyler started a weekly basketball camp for kids from Harlem. He loved his sport and he lived to share it with others.
This court, and every court the NCAA and the Tyler Ugolyn Foundation have given to host cities the last seven years, bear a message from Tyler.
“I had asked him why so many boys weren't going out for the basketball team,” Victor Ugolyn recalled. “[Tyler] said, 'That's because they don't like the coach.' I asked him, 'What about you?' And he said, 'It doesn't matter to me. I just love playing the game.'”
"I just love playing the game" is pained along the free throw lines on the new court.
Tuesday, fifth grader Maleia Shaw was one of those who will benefit from the tribute. She may never know a world before September 11, 2001, but she does know a good basketball court when she sees one.
“This court it looks like its shinier and newer,“ Shaw explained, an improvement over where she plays now. “It was really hot inside and it had - it was like messed up and the paint was peeling off.”
Dallas City Councilmember Carolyn Davis had a more emotional message for Tyler Ugolyn.
“You're doing the right thing. I don't know you, but I love you, and I will always remember you for what you've done to this community,” she said.
Tuesday, Ugolyn keeps his son’s memory is alive with every young player.
“It continues to grow, and it continues to be such an important part of our lives,” said Tyler’s mother, Diane Ugolyn. "He liked to give back and would certainly be smiling down right now if he could see what this is doing. These gyms are the heartbeats of the communities.”