We've seen Davonte Gaines take his basketball game to new heights right here in Buffalo.
Heights reached with a boost from Ty Parker.
"I met him playing in an outside basketball league about nine years ago," Gaines said. "Just over the years he saw something in me that I could be special and over the years he just helped me out, worked with me, mentored me, and now as I'm older, it's just the same relationship."
"It started out with him playing basketball at a young age," Parker said. "I trained him and everything. I saw that there was no male figure in his life. So I went to his mom and asked his mom if I could mentor him because we're into mentoring kids that come from single parents. Just over the time me and him just grew close. Working out, going out to eat, celebrating his birthdays, things like that. Our relationship just grew tight over the years."
But it's one time Parker and Gaines weren't together that nearly ended everything.
"I was 14," Gaines remembers. "I was at a basketball park by my house and we were playing basketball and a fight broke out and stuff. Kind of stayed there, just standing there and someone started shooting. Unfortunately one of my friends lost their life that day. It was just a moment or event that I'll never forget."
Ten bullets went flying on August 12, 2014 at Roosevelt Park in Buffalo.
One grazed the arm of Gaines as he ran away.
His friend Raymond Patterson III wasn't as lucky, dying in the shooting at the age of 14.
"Every day I'll be thinking about that I was one of the fortunate ones to still be here," Gaines said. "I mourn the death of Ray. It's just a blessing that I'm still here able to make my dreams come true."
Gaines says he couldn't bring himself to return the park until years later. While absent from that basketball court, Davonte began rising high on the others around Buffalo.
"As a kid that situation definitely motivated me to do better, stay away from the streets," Gaines said. "When something happens like that it obviously changes you and the way you're thinking. So after it happened I just knew that basketball got to be my way out."
With Parker right there to help. It first began as a mentor and coach. Now the relationship is even closer, with Parker officially becoming Gaines legal guardian last year.
"With the title or not, I knew he was a father figure to me, whether he had the title or whether he was my legal guardian. It didn't matter," Gaines said.
"That role just fell in place," Parker said. "It wasn't anything acted out. It just happened to be that way. If he needed something I was there for him. If he needed help with his school work, I was there for him. If he needed money to get some sneakers or whatever he had to do to get what he wanted to get, I was just there for him. And he was a good kid. Here's a good kid, he comes from a good background. His mom took good care of him, but I just felt he was missing something."
Together, Parker has helped Gaines find the high-flying success. After two 1st Team All-State seasons capped his Health Sciences career, Davonte using the past year at Hargrave Military Academy to strengthen his body and game, focusing on improving his jump shot while facing tougher competition.
Now it is finally time for Gaines to see how his game stacks up against the best, arriving in Knoxville Monday to begin his basketball career at Tennessee.
"I remember I was young playing in a backyard on a broken down hoop with my friends and now just growing over the years, got with coach Ty, he's been helping me over the years just to become the basketball player I am today," Gaines said. "It's just a blessing for me."
"It's like a dream come true to me because I always imagined him playing at a high level," Parker said. "I always said he was going to be special and I think it came to fruition."
Dreams becoming reality, as Parker continues to give Gaines the most important assists.