SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The stands were packed at Commerce High School for Senior Night.

But five hard-working basketball players were given awards and one got a scholarship for their achievements.

Western Mass News went to Monday nights game on how this scholarship was in honor of a former Patriots player.

The assistant basketball coach, Rick Johnson is the cousin of former Patriots player Ronald Brace.

His family surprised six hard-working athletes tonight, to help them succeed in college.

The Red Raiders filled the stands at Commerce High School in Springfield.

"Tonight we just want to come together as a family and give a scholarship in my cousin's man his name was Ron Brace he is from Springfield," Johnson explained.

Former New England Patriots defensive tackle, Ron Brace passed away from an apparent heart attack at his family's home in Springfield in 2016.

He was just 29-years-old.

Johnson told Western Mass News it was important to give out a scholarship and awards in his cousin's name.

"We needed to do something to keep his game alive. He played high school football at Burn Coat, he went on to play college football at Boston College and he played in the NFL for the New England Patriots for four years, unexpectedly he died on April 23, 2016," Johnson explained.

Five players ran through a tunnel of pom-poms, surprised to get a gift card for $100 each.

And one stand out Senior basketball star with a 3.70 GPA was given a $1,000 scholarship.

"The kid who is receiving it, Lucia Murphy I had him for four years now and hopefully it can pay for some books or even go through a semester," Johnson said.

The student was shown, all smiles holding up his surprise scholarship with braces family cheering him on in the stands.

Brace's father told Western Mass News, a scholarship is something his son would have wanted him to do.

"One of Ron's favorite sayings is that whenever he did speak to us he would tell us. 'People look at me because I made it to the NFL that was my biggest accomplishment. My biggest accomplishment getting his degree from Boston College'," Johnson noted.

Coach Johnson said he hopes the scholarship will help with college books or tuition.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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