Following their dreams on the court from Saint Croix to North Augusta

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 11:34 PM EST
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NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - Maliq Richards and Khaleed Heywood are seniors on the North Augusta Boys Basketball team.

They’re cousins and were born in Saint Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Two years ago, their talents on the basketball court and their goal of following their love for the game, led them to find a new home in the CSRA.

Maliq Richards said, “Being able to play at North Augusta is a great opportunity. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity back home.”

Khaleed Heywood said, “It’s a completely different environment. New people, a new school, a lot of people don’t experience that.”

Even though this is an amazing opportunity for these two young basketball stars, it hasn’t been easy living far away from their loved ones.

“I speak to my mom every day. I try not to think about home too much, because I know I really miss it a lot,” said Heywood.

Richards said, “Being away from my mom for two years, it’s hard because you know, I miss her.”

Maliq Richards’ mother Kimme Bryce says, part of the motivation for making the difficult decision to send her son to live on the mainland with their uncle, was because of the tropical storms that continue to hit the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It took a while for me to get used to him not being there. I was able to take him to all of his sporting activities, and I put him in good hands with the person that he resides with here,” she said. “A lot of the schools there have been damaged. Due to the storm, not many of the gyms are in operation, so it’s very difficult.”

Heywood’s mother Estica Caesar said, “They’ve flourished like we’ve never imagined and we wouldn’t regret sending them. We really appreciate the opportunity and we appreciate everything that everyone has done for them.”

Knowing how important senior night was to Richards and Heywood, there wasn’t anything that would keep their mothers from being in attendance.

Heywood said, “It means the world to me, and I know they wouldn’t miss it.”

Richards said, “My whole life my mom has always had my back in anything I did. Basketball-wise and anything I needed.”

Bryce said, “It really fills my heart with joy to see the opportunity and what it’s brought about for him, and how great he’s going. We’re looking forward to great things from here on.”

Both Richards and Heywood have played massive roles in the North Augusta Yellowjackets becoming serious state championship contenders this season.

On Tuesday night, the Yellowjackets will be at home looking to remain undefeated when they take on the Keenan Raiders. North August is heading into this matchup 23-0 on the year.