A fire destroyed Tennessee freshman Zakai Zeigler’s family home in Queens this past weekend.
And in the four days days since the tragic loss, a GoFundMe page has raised more than $309,000 for the Long Island native’s family, including his mother Charmane and his 4-year-old nephew, Nori, who has special needs.
“We have been absolutely blown away by the outpouring of support and generosity!” Zeigler — who grew up in Wyandanch and commuted via train and foot to attend class and play basketball at a New Jersey private high school — commented on the GoFundMe page.
“Any contributions above and beyond our final losses/expenses will be donated to charity. Thank you to everyone who has given,” he added.
The Knoxville News reported that Ziegler learned of the Saturday night fire after No. 17 Tennessee upset No. 3 Auburn, 67-62, on Saturday. The freshman guard has emerged as a vital component of Tennessee’s strong season, averaging more than eight points a game off the bench and energizing the team and fanbase with his hustle, raw talent and enthusiasm.
“The East Tennessee community has embraced Zakai in such an impactful manner that his mother is exploring opportunities to relocate to Knoxville so that the family can spend more time together and Zakai can assist with Nori’s care,” reads the GoFundMe, approved by Tennessee athletics. “In the short term, funds will be used to fill immediate needs such as temporary housing, clothing and airfare.”
The listed goal of the GoFundMe effort is $50,000, though the full scope of the losses in the fire is still being assessed. The belonging lost in the fire include all Zakai’s nephew’s vital accessibility equipment, including a wheelchair and splints, the GoFundMe page reports.
Top photo: Zakai Zeigler holds his 4-year-old nephew, Nori (GoFundMe)