A Vaiden woman wants to honor the memory of her son by giving back to the community and the school that helped him hone in on his own love for sports.
Lesia Hemphill of Vaiden began a scholarship in memory of her late son Louis LaTray Hemphill. She said she began the scholarship as a way to honor her son’s legacy. LaTray Hemphill passed away in 2020.
“My son was athletic. He was an all-around sportsman. He never tried soccer or baseball, but he loved basketball and football. He ran track while at J.Z. George. He always said when he got married he would have kids, but he was very interested in our future generations,” Hemphill said.
“He loved to help people. He was the baby of the family. I tried to instill in them that if you can’t help someone, don’t hurt them,” she said. “He wanted to help everyone who he encountered.”
She said as her son got older, he got into hunting.
“He was into deer and rabbit hunting. But the rabbit was just for sport, he never ate them,” she said, laughing.
Hemphill said her goal is to give back to the community that helped give to her and her children.
She said in order to apply for the scholarship, the students have to be an athlete and a graduating senior of J.Z. George High School. They are required to write an essay, telling a little about themselves and provide references.
“They had to talk about their future endeavors, of course, going to college. But, what they planned to do,” she said. Hemphill said she had a panel put together to read over the applications.
Hemphill said a recipient has been chosen and will be announced later. She said she set an attainable goal of $500 every year, but donations are rolling in and are exceeding her expectations. She said she plans to award the scholarship annually.
“I wanted a number that I can maintain annually,” she said. “But, the donations have been coming in.”
She said that she wants to continue to be able to honor her son’s memory and she plans to do just that.
“I want to keep my baby’s memory alive. I want him to be remembered for the good. And I’m going to try and put my best effort forward to do just that,” she said.
Anyone who still wants to donate to the inaugural Louis L. Hemphill Scholarship can contact Hemphill.