NEW PORT RICHEY — Bruno Buonsanto coached former Gulf High basketball player Tony Rangel for much of his time as a youth playing in the Salvation Army league in Port Richey. When he heard of his former player’s death, Buonsanto felt he had to do something.
Buonsanto teamed up with Salvation Army Community Center director Bobby Riordan and Gulf High to host the Rangel/Greene Benefit on Saturday at the Bever-Hicks Center, where many former teammates, friends and family came out to show support for Tony Rangel and Anthony Greene, both of whom passed away earlier this month. The event raised $1,700, according to Buonsanto.
“I just thought about all of the years that Tony had committed to the Salvation Army leagues and I said that we have to do something to give back,” Buonsanto said. “Just the financial burden of something tragic like this happening really made me want to put this benefit on for both families. (Rangel) was a warrior and he gave it everything he had every game.”
At Gulf, Rangel played point guard on the varsity for four seasons and in 2012 was an honorable mention on the Tribune’s all-county team and a third-team selection on the All-Sunshine Athletic Conference team. Rangel, 20, was also a captain at Gulf his senior season and graduated in 2012. The former Buccaneers’ basketball player was murdered in the early morning hours Jan. 15.
Many current Gulf players attended and competed in the competitions, including Joey Nickerson, James Grubb, Andre Wilson and Danny Atkinson. Buonsanto and Riordan decided there would be three events that players could compete in at the benefit, including knockout, 3-point challenge and a slam dunk competition. Rangel’s younger brother, Danny, won one of the two knockout games and Wilson took home slam dunk competition honors as the 6-foot-5 senior stunned the crowd with a between-the-legs dunk to end the evening.
“It was social media that helped me get the word out there about the event,” Buonsanto said. “A lot of the kids I do see out, and I’ve talked to kids from River Ridge, Hudson and Ridgewood High School and they’re all here to support. They all knew (Rangel) and knew he was a good person.”
The other family being helped through the event was the Greenes, whose son Anthony was killed after a truck collided with the bicycle on which he was riding on Gunn Highway on Jan. 6. Greene was previously a student at Gulf before his family moved to East Tampa where he attended Middleton. His mother, Deborah, expressed much gratitude to Gulf and event staff for putting on the event for her family and the Rangels.
“I really appreciate everything that they’re doing,” Greene said. “They went over the limit. They made sure that all the kids who weren’t really able to get to the funeral got there. (Gulf High School) pulling this big event is like a blessing. A lot of people don’t get this, but they’re really doing this and making sure we’re okay and I really appreciate that.”
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.