Photo: Atlanta Braves third baseman Austin Riley of Southaven poses with a family for a photo at Buy A Tree, Change A Life on Tuesday, Nov. 21. (Photo courtesy Leah Brignance)
By Bailee Harris
Tuesday night, Nov. 21 was an exciting time for Southaven locals, especially those who are Austin Riley fans. Riley is a local star who played baseball for DeSoto Central High School. During his high school career, Riley had 139 RBI, 28 home runs, and pitched 204 innings with a total of 245 strikeouts.
The hometown hero’s legacy led him to be drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft. He is currently continuing to make a name for himself within the Braves organization, recently winning MLB Player of the Week Award, as well as The Silver Slugger Award. Riley has also been an MLB All-Star and part of the Braves’ last World Series championship in 2021.
Tuesday night wasn’t just about Riley’s achievements on the field, however. Riley offered community members exciting incentives for the benefit of Buy A Tree, Change A Life this year, showcasing his deep-rooted commitment to his community. With a minimum of $100 donation, fans were able to snag a personalized autographed baseball. Participants were also able to have a picture taken with Riley.
Buy A Tree, Change A Life at Silo Square is an event that allows community members to purchase a fresh Christmas tree, with 100 percent of its proceeds going to children in need of help, both globally and locally.
50 percent of these proceeds will be donated to Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center, which is dedicated to helping child abuse victims in the DeSoto and Tate counties.
Silo Square Marketing and Events Coordinator Leah Brigance shares her excitement about Riley’s return home by stating, “It was great. We had people travel from Atlanta, from Kentucky, from Arkansas, Augusta, Georgia…and even Florida. We had locals and out-of-towners, so it was a great turn out.” She continues, “Austin’s a hometown boy, he loves giving back and he loves doing this event each year, so we’re thankful to have him.”
Over the last two years, Buy A Tree, Change A Life at Silo Square has raised $539,000. Trees will be available for purchase through Sunday, Dec. 3, depending on remaining tree availability.
Bailee Harris is a journalism student at Ole Miss and a contributor for desotocountynews.com
Photos courtesy Leah Brigance