Growing up in the projects for 15 years of his life and not meeting his father for 16, Tyri Hampton has walked a cracked road to get where he is.
When he was around the age of 6, his mother introduced sports to him as a way to keep him off the streets.
That’s when he found his love for basketball.
“Living in a bad area with no father and a very young mother could have turned out very bad for me. But my mother did her best to raise me and help me become a man as best she could,” Hampton said. “I was born a statistic and was technically supposed to end up where my father is right now. Basketball was one of those activities that my mom put me in to help me stay productive and surrounded by good people.”
Instead of following what was expected of him and making a life in a cell, Hampton rose and became the star captain for the Framingham State Rams men’s basketball team.
His mother’s plan to help him stay out of trouble succeeded as he spent most of his childhood on the hardwood.
“Some of my best memories definitely include AAU basketball. I loved traveling to different states and playing different types of players,” Hampton said. “My first time dunking in a high school game is something I’ll never forget. It’s a feeling you can describe, the satisfaction is what you can’t put into words.”
Once he reached the end of his high school career, Hampton was recruited by the head basketball coach for Nichols College.
The school was his first choice, but it didn’t make sense financially to him.
So, he sent his basketball film to the Rams’ head coach at the time, Peter Mugar.
“He was really interested in my game,” Hampton said. “I came for a school visit and that’s when he said he would love to have me on the team.”
What followed was four consistent seasons, with the final two being as one of Framingham’s captains.
After averaging between seven and nine points per game in his first three, the forward enjoyed a 13.3 average in his final year.
“Some of my best memories from playing basketball I made this year. Achieving a new career high of 24 points for Kobe of course, earning an all-tournament team award, getting a mean put-back dunk against Salem State, and of course, my senior night is something I’ll never forget,” Hampton said. “It was my mom’s first time ever seeing me play in college. And that half-court shot is some-thing I’ve never done in my life. The feeling was amazing and seeing the crowd’s reaction was priceless.”
With his mother working nonstop to support him and his siblings, she was forced to miss all his games in college.
“I don’t blame her for not going to any of my games,” Hampton said. “I understood that she had to provide for her family, and sometimes that means sacrificing certain things in life.”
Hampton told his mother to come to his senior night a month in advance, and luckily, she was able to get the time off to see her son play.
With only 0.02 seconds remaining in regulation, down by three against Bridgewater State, Hampton heaved a shot from right on top of the Rams’ logo at half court and sank a three, sending the game into overtime.
Fans and players alike came pouring onto the court to celebrate the play as Hampton yelled and let his emotions loose.
“The buzzer beater was honestly super unexpected. I wanted to have a good game because my mother was there, and I wanted to show her how hard I have worked at becoming the best player I could be. It was never in my mind that I was going to make a play like that, it just happened,” Hampton said. “It was honestly pure luck. Sometimes you just throw the ball up and it just happens to fall in. What a night for that to happen, right?”
He finished the game with 23 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
“That’s definitely an unforgettable senior night,” Hampton said.
“Ty’s performance was amazing. He played like the senior captain that he is. That last second shot will be remembered for a long time,” coach Bill Raynor said. “My only regret is that we could have put together a better senior season for him. He definitely deserved it. He is a great example of what a Framingham State student athlete should be.”
Despite being a standout, Hampton never experienced a winning season in college.
His record with the Rams finishes at 21-81.
“Playing for Framingham these last four years has been really hard. I left high school the only senior on my varsity team along with a losing record. My senior year in college, I’m the only senior, and again I’m leaving with a losing record,” Hampton said. “To be honest, what kept me around these past four years were the people I met. Everyone I’ve met through basketball has had such an impact on my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Playing basketball is always fun for me. Losing sucks, but I found the relationships I made to be more valuable.”
Hampton’s final game of his college career came on Saturday, in quite the poetic place.
He returned to his hometown of Fitchburg.
“The feeling was surreal. I couldn’t believe it,” Hampton said. “The only thought running through my mind was, ‘wow … it’s all going to end where it all started.’”
After scoring a game-high 19 points and pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds, Hampton was subbed out with a minute left.
As he walked off the court, tears came down his face.
“I couldn’t help but cry once my coach pulled me off the court,” Hampton said. “I looked up at the scoreboard, and once I saw my coach’s arms reach out to embrace me for a hug, I couldn’t help but let it all out.”
“When I hugged Tyri after taking him out of the game, I felt a sense of sadness for him because it was his last game,” Raynor said. “I also felt a great exhilaration and sense of gratitude for being blessed to have coached him and to be a small part of his life. I know he will make many contributions to society and continue to grow and develop.”
Going forward, Hampton wishes to continue his basketball career overseas. But first, he is going to focus on attending to injuries he’s ignored for a few years.
So, for now, the Fitchburg kid from the projects is looking to graduate from Framingham State in May with a degree in psychology.