Support for Davenport continues to grow

Published 5:38 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Support of Charles Henderson senior Maori Davenport continues to grow.

Davenport, a Rutgers signee and frontrunner for Miss Basketball, was deemed ineligible earlier this month after she received a check for her time with USA Basketball this summer. She appealed to both the Circuit 2 Council and the Central Board of Control, both of which ruled her ineligible, saying in a statement that by receiving the check Davenport violated the AHSAA’s Amateur Rule.

The Troy community has recently rallied around the Davenport family by signing a petition. Alina Penjiyeva has created a petition for Maori Davenport and the response by the Troy community has been has been strong.

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“I have been watching Maori since she has been playing high school basketball,” Penjiyeva said. “I have known her mom, we go to the gym together. When I saw that she couldn’t play, it just shocked me. I started to do some research and we have never had a representative on the US team. I couldn’t believe the AHSAA would not reconsider it.”

The current goal is to reach 7,500 signatures for the petition. The original goal was to reach 5,000. As of Saturday afternoon, the petition had reached over 6,600 signatures and it’s a number that continues to grow every day.

“(The community knows) the ruling is incorrect,” Penjiyeva said. “That is why they are so passionate about it. They know how hard she has worked. If she went out there asking for money that would be one thing, but when the US team sends the check by mistake, that’s on the US team and they already said it was their mistake. I don’t think a player should be punished for that.”

The amount of support that the Davenports have received since Maori played her last game has, at times, been beyond words for the Davenport family.

“It’s been hard,” said Maori Davenport’s mother Tara. “Just to know that we got all this support has made the walk easier for us.”

The Davenports have gotten support from fellow players, coaches and the Troy community, all of whom expressed they are behind the Davenport family.

“We know that no matter what the outcome ends up being, we’ve had the support of people that we don’t even know,” Tara said. “That has been amazing.”

The Davenports were unaware of the petition until Tara Davenport saw the post on Facebook and immediately went to visit the site.

“I told (Penjiyeva) ‘Listen, I appreciate you,’” Tara said. “She told me we are going to get some national attention and she was all pumped. I have people reaching out to me and offering some words of encouragement. Maori knows we are not alone in this. I have tried to share it with her dad and brother. We are at peace about it. We have people in our corner that are willing to fight with us.”

Maori Davenport, although not allowed to play with her teammates, is still around. She is able to practice and be with her team during games. The Davenports are still weighing their options for the rest of the season.

“We have different options that we can veer towards but we just don’t know,” Tara said. “We are hoping she will be able to get back on the court with her team. That’s what we are hoping for. We don’t want to lose that hope. She has several options, but right now she wants to get back on the court with her team.”

In the meantime, Maori is thinking of ways to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else.

“She wants what’s best,” Tara said. “She always says ‘Well maybe we will get the rule changed and another kid won’t have to go through this. For her to be thinking of someone else in a time when she is dealing with what she is going through, says a lot about her.”