Single mother Tameka Gordon’s sacrifice is paying off as her son, Brandon Gardner, follows his dream to play professional basketball.
Brandon, a Burke County native, has loved the sport since he lived off of Shadrack Street as a child. Disappointment set in when, while half way through his childhood, he didn’t make the school team.
“He used to play in the yard by himself every day,” Tameka said. “Middle school came and he didn’t make the team.”
Tameka and Brandon didn’t give up. She took Brandon to William Avery’s basketball camp every summer. Tameka’s determination to dedicate her life to her son’s dream is as powerful as Brandon’s will to succeed.
“After that the basketball journey began,” his mother said of their nontraditional strategy.
Tameka took advantage of her ability to teach online. Keeping her house in Waynesboro, she rented an apartment in South Carolina and enrolled Brandon in Gray Collegiate Academy. In the ninth grade, he assisted his team in winning the state championship. In the 2020 state title game against Christ Church Episcopal, Brandon went up against John Butler Jr., a current member of the Portland Trailblazers. Brandon finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks. During his sophomore year, Brandon became nationally ranked. Tameka continued to enroll him in camps associated with big names in the sport. Brandon participated in Chris Paul’s Youth basketball camp, a Nike event camp and a USA Basketball Gold camp.
“I have all the jerseys from all the camps he attended,” Tameka said. “He went to all those major camps and they provided exposure and training and skill development and stuff like that.”
Brandon participated in the Boo Williams AAU program on the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit, also known as Nike EYBL, and is included in a YouTube video. He was ranked one of the top- 10 most efficient scorers in the league. Last summer, he played at the prestigious Peach Jam Tournament in North Augusta, S.C., recording 18 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals in a win over UPLAY Canada.
All of their persistence began to pay off. Brandon started receiving invitations to USA camps where the top student athletes get to try out for national teams. He made the 2022 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup Competition, requiring him to travel to Debrecen, Hungary. He helped lead Team USA to a pair of wins over the Dominican Republic and Estonia.
“They didn’t win a gold medal, but they got the experience,” Tameka said and mentioned that Brandon has played basketball across the entire U.S. and is used to catching flights every other weekend.
“It’s part of his life now,” she said.
As a junior, Brandon helped lead Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C. to a 21-6 overall record, averaging approximately 14 points per game.
Eighteen-year-old Brandon, now 6 foot 8 inches tall and weighing in at 210 lbs., is in his senior year of high school at Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, New York. He plays basketball for the elite co-educational catholic school. His first game this season will be played in London, England November 30. Five of the games that he plays in this season will be televised on ESPN.
“I felt like if he could play basketball in New York, which is the Mecca, he could play against anybody in the world,” Tameka said. “I am a teacher and I can teach anywhere in the country.”
In December, he plays in California against LeBron James’ son, Bronny James. Although Brandon is already friends with Bronny, the game is a much-anticipated event for Tameka.
After receiving 28 Division 1 scholarship offers including Auburn, Georgetown, Georgia Tech, Florida, Kansas, Maryland Ole Miss, Texas A& M and LSU, four-star and consensus top-100 forward Brandon signed on to St. John’s University November 16. He was featured in a November 13 article in The New York Post.
Tameka admits that she doesn’t have a life of her own but she doesn’t regret it. She believes that parents are supposed to support and assist their children in living out their dreams and finding the purpose for their lives.
“I am thankful,” she said. “I think our job is to be a parent but ultimately help your children just become happy and productive. If anything were to happen to me tomorrow, I don’t want my kids to ever live the rest of their lives saying she didn’t give it all she had.”
Brandon is a highlight reel waiting to happen, St John’s said in a recent press release. He has the ability to score, rebound, pass and defend at a high level. He also comes from a great family, it states. Brandon is the second top-100 high school recruit to sign with the university.
Tameka pointed out that her son excels at dunking. Brandon is shooting for the Olympics and the National Basketball Association (NBA). His favorite teams are the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Lakers. Brandon’s brother, Jeremy Gordon, played football at Burke County High School and continues to reside in Waynesboro.