TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Basketball is Ari Eichner's first love. He's been playing since he was a kid.
"I had a bunch of friends that played basketball and I kind of fell in love with it just playing with them on the street," explains Ari.
He's got skills, the kind of player every team wants. His talent paid off in more ways than one when Ari and his mom, Julie, moved from Texas to Florida in the middle of the pandemic.
"Things have not always been easy. But between moving, trying to fit into a school that has a lot of Greek influence and not coming from that culture has been very different," explains Julie Eichner, Ari's mom.
"It's hard too because at the same time you need like a team chemistry or whatever. So it was hard kind of finding, finding my way into the basketball team but it all fit together," explains Ari.
And then, his mom suffered a medical emergency.
"I had a bilateral stroke, just kind of out of the blue, didn't quite know what caused it. So I spent a little over a week in the hospital trying to determine," says Julie.
But, Ari kept pressing on.
"It's hard being in a place where you just you don't have your friend network, you don't have your family network, you which is to tend to rely on that your friends and family when you go through any hardships, especially through a Pandemic," Julie continues
Julie credits new friends who have come like family, for getting them through it. They were there when Ari signed his letter of intent to play basketball at Eastern University, just outside Philadelphia.
"I couldn't be more proud. He has really worked hard had a lot of dedication to his sport," says Julie. "But he is just persevered through it and has just done phenomenal."