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Ridgeland basketball player receives national courage award: ‘I feel truly blessed’

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 10:03 PM CDT
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RIDGELAND, Miss. (WLBT) - Thousands of student-athletes around the nation applied, but only two, a boy and a girl, came away with the Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Basketball Courage Award.

The female winner is Ridgeland High School senior Xzeria Denson and she joined her teammates Tuesday to receive one of the highest honors of courage in the country.

Denson overcame significant lower-body injuries each of her four years playing basketball while navigating obstacles in her personal life.

”I’m truly blessed to receive this award,” she said, “and for them to pick me from the entire country, I feel truly blessed. My coach is one of the few people that I trust truly, and she has pushed me and brought me here. She nominated me and helped me get to where I am today.”

”Xzeria is everything that this award embodies,” stated Xzeria’s coach, Jessica Packer. “She’s had the courage to push herself to be the best athlete. To be the best student as well.”

Local Jersey Mike’s franchise owner Bret Dunnaway and his wife Jennifer were on hand to present Denson with the award and an additional $1,000 check.

The Jersey Mike’s Naismith High School Basketball Courage Award recognizes one male and one female high school basketball player who has consistently gone above and beyond throughout the basketball season, and has demonstrated courage in their approach to their team, school, and community.

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