TOWN OF ONONDAGA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Latavius Murray has traveled all around the country while playing for the NFL. He grew up on Orchard Avenue, so Nedrow will always be home.

“Growing up here, we walked down the road to Kelley Park to play basketball,” Murray recalled. “We caught the bus or caught a ride into the inner city to go to the Boys and Girls Club to get access to youth programs and be around kids that played basketball and stuff like that.”

He wants to make it easier for youth around here, so, he has plans to build a community center. Aldi donated the land behind its Nedrow store, and it will have a gym, game room, and computer lab among other things. These are all resources Murray wished he had here growing up.

“Just remove the stress of finding a ride, needing to be picked up, not being able to go because I didn’t have one,” Murray said. “You could just walk right up here and have access to all those things.”

Jason Czarny is the Athletic Director at Onondaga Central and was Murray’s coach. He is working with him on this project.

“We’re seeing a drop off in participation all around the area, all the different school districts,” Czarny explained. “Part of it is getting out and having a place to do something. Having this be right here is a huge momentum booster for our kids and get them out doing stuff.”

“As they say, it ain’t no place like home. And I’m just excited to do something meaningful. I think that’s what it’s all about. Words aren’t enough. I think to do something that gives kids an opportunity to have experiences like I had and hopefully go on to do things I was able to, that will mean the most to me.”

Latavius Murray

Many of the details are still being worked out, but they do have a name – the Jon Diaz Community Center. He was Murray’s best friend who was shot and killed in Armory Square on Thanksgiving Day in 2016.

“The biggest way to remember him is through action,” Murray said.

The process is just beginning, but Murray hopes to break ground in 2023.