Basketball tournament will raise scholarship funds, honor local man

Basketball tournament will raise scholarship funds, honor local man

An upcoming basketball tournament will be held in honor of Jalen Charles Coulbourn, who died of suicide in 2014.

WOONSOCKET – One local family is hoping their experiences with suicide will help support other families going through the same thing.

On Saturday, Feb. 29, husband and wife team Charles Coulbourn and Ilanna Ball will host a suicide awareness and prevention-themed basketball tournament at Woonsocket Middle School. The proceeds from the tournament will benefit the Jalen Charles Coulbourn Memorial Scholarship.

The scholarship is named for Coulbourn’s son, Jalen, who died in 2014. Jalen grew up in Providence and Cranston, where he was active in the youth sports circuit, playing basketball, football and Little League. He also came from a musical family and was pursuing a rap career in Las Vegas at the time of his death.

“He was a big Providence College basketball fan. His cousin (is) Ed Cooley of the Providence Friars,” said Coulbourn.

On Oct. 10, 2014, Jalen died of suicide while attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Coulbourn and Ball said Jalen struggled with mental illness and substance abuse at college. He left behind three brothers. His mother, Jessica Noon, died of cancer in 1999.

In the years since, said Coulbourn, it’s been difficult to talk about his son’s death. He’s hoping the basketball tournament will commemorate Jalen’s life but also serve as a source of support for other families dealing with problems.

“I’ve been wanting to do it for awhile, but it brings me so much emotion and so much pain still,” he said. “My wife surprised me and she got everything jump started. It’s off and running now.”

Ball, the owner of Finest Real Estate and Property Management, is no stranger to charitable events. Since making her home in North Smithfield, she’s hosted several events in the area, most recently a free Christmas Eve dinner at Millrace Kitchen.

For this next event, she said, she’s hoping to commemorate the fifth year after her stepson’s death. Often, she said, people feel a need to hide a suicide after an individual’s death, but she’s hoping the effort will help normalize talking about suicide and the issues that lead to it.

“I thought this was a perfect time to do it,” she said. “There’s no good time to talk about these issues, but it was really something that we wanted to do.”

The tournament will mark the first fundraiser for the Jalen Charles Coulbourn Memorial Scholarship, which the family plans to award this spring. Though the exact amount is still to be determined, Ball said they hope to award the scholarship to a graduating senior whose family has been touched by suicide. The scholarship, she said, will support any type of higher education, including trade school.

“If we can raise $2,500, I’ll be happy. If we can raise $5,000, I’ll be ecstatic,” she said.

Teams are encouraged to sign up by this coming Monday, Feb. 17. The registration fee is $200 per team. The tournament will have a five versus five, double elimination format, with a maximum of eight players per team. The tournament is geared toward adults, but high school-aged teams are also welcome to register.

Play will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 29, at Woonsocket Middle School, 60 Florence Drive. Registration begins at 8 a.m.

To sign up for the tournament, call Ilanna Ball at 401-419-7116 or email wecanfixitall4u@gmail.com .

Families interested in applying for the scholarship are also welcome to reach out to Ball to be placed on a waiting list for sign-up information.