Growing up in Malone, you’re likely to be attracted to the sport of basketball, thanks to it’s numerous state championship wins.

Malone School alumni, Chai Baker loved the sport of basketball, but had to give up on it, too soon. 

Chai Baker graduated from Malone School in 2014. He was a part of the Tigers 2014 State Championship team.

After graduation, Baker received a scholarship to continue his basketball career at Oregon State University.

He was tested and cleared to play for the Beavers, but one day at practice, he collapsed.

“I’ve been playing since I was probably fifth or sixth grade when I started. Never had any idea or had any symptoms of it,” Chai Baker, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy survivor.

Doctors said Baker has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

A disease that makes it hard for the heart to pump blood.

Officials said that many with the disease never have any symptoms.

In 2016, a Marianna High School graduate, Herman Williams, died during a game of pick up basketball, from the same disease.

Now, Baker is working to stop that from happening to any other Jackson County residents.

“I needed to come closer to home and help out and just raise awareness of it and let every parent know that it’s a possibility that your kid might have it and they should get checked,” said Baker.

He teamed up with the non-profit organization, Who We Play For, to provide free heart screenings for Jackson County students.

Baker said it is important to him and the community to keep the kids safe.

Wednesday morning was the first round of screenings, done at Baker’s former high school.

Baker and Who We Play For officials said they plan to continue the screenings at other schools in the county.

“Our goal is to heart screen every kid in Jackson County that’s playing sports,” said Baker, “From basketball, baseball, cross country, whatever sport it is, we want to heart screen them.”