PROVIDENCE, R.I. (BVM) — Brown Bears men’s basketball verbal commit Aaron Cooley shattered his entire right elbow 13 years ago. Three surgeries, 100 stitches and multiple botox shots later, his arm is still unable to fully extend.
“Going Division I even with the disability is proof that you can do anything as long as you stay determined,” Cooley said.
A shooting guard for Beaver Country Day in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Cooley is graduating in the spring of 2021 and will be the first person in his immediate family to attend an Ivy League school.
“I think this is history,” Cooley said. “Being a young Black man from the city you don’t hear or see things like this often. Where I think I stood out goes beyond my GPA and basketball skills; I think I stood out not just because of accolades but because of my character.”
The 6-foot-5 senior did not have a final high school season because of the pandemic. Fortunately his highlights as a junior led him to receive offers from several other programs including Boston University, Princeton, Columbia and Holy Cross. As a junior, he averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Summer Runs 😁 pic.twitter.com/EXNYZ9kVKx
— Aaron X Cooley 🌹 (@aaronxcooley) June 25, 2020
Cooley said although he knew for a while that he wanted to commit to Brown, he ultimately pushed the public announcement of his early decision to Aug. 31 because of what the day meant to him and his family.
“A year ago on that day, my brother, Isaiah Hill, passed away,” Cooley said. “He didn’t even get to see his 18th birthday. We dreamed of going to college, going to the NBA, and getting our parents-in-law houses. His passing left a chip on my shoulder. I’m living this dream for the both of us.”
Ranked No. 6 in the Massachusetts Class of 2021 and No. 14 in the New England Class of 2021, Cooley said he strives to stand out as more than an inspiring player on the hardwood. He said he wants to lead by example and empower people around him outside of sports, which is why he started his own brand in 2016 to inspire young men and women.
“Since my freshman year I have been building on this culture that I have called B.I.O. (Believing In Ourselves) Productions,” Cooley said. “It is a Boston media culture, and with it I focus on filming and fashion in the world of sports.”
Although he is leaving for Brown University, Cooley is still going to make the time for his company. He wants to continue to film stories about others and turn it into something more after he graduates in four years.
“Some goals I have with B.I.O. are to make a blockbuster movie that is seen in the movie theaters,” Cooley said. “I also want to have my own store in Roxbury, Mass., like how Nipsey Hussle had in Crenshaw, and just make a larger impact to my community by any means.”
As excited as Cooley is to join the Bears, he will always remember winning his first individual award for basketball at just 10 years old. Winning the No Books No Ball All-Star MVP award at the Shelburne Community Center in Roxbury goes down as what he said as the happiest moment as a player.
“Besides winning the trophy, the best part about the moment is that I had my brother Shyheim Odom run up towards me to give me a high five for winning the trophy,” Cooley said. “All these years later I still hoop at the Shelburne, show love to No Books No Ball, and brotherhood with Mr. Odom.”
Although he has not signed his National Letter of Intent yet, he is practicing hard outside of his canceled high school season. Cooley said he is always trying to reach a higher bar than his junior high school highlights which got him recruited.
“The Brown community has high expectations for me, both on and off the court and I will produce,” Cooley said. “For the next four years I will be challenged, but it’s through these challenges that I grow and become stronger.”