EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Deputy Bryan Hicks finally returned home this month from therapy after suffering a head wound in the line of duty in September. But once a Panther, always a Panther. Before he was a deputy, Hicks played freshman basketball as well as other sports as a student at Reitz. He will be honored at the Reitz vs Central game Friday night.

“It feels awesome to get to go out there and play for something that’s more than just your team,” said Central guard Blake Herdes. “Something different, something special. I’ve got family and friends in the line in the work force who go out there and you never know what’s gonna happen, so you just think about that and see what happens and play for somebody that’s bigger than you.”

Deputy Hicks’ father, Keith Hicks, has been the bookkeeper at the Reitz games for years, making him an honorary Panther as well. He works for BSN Sports, which sponsors both Reitz and Central, and will be providing apparel for players and fans.

“It’s just a great thing – we have uniforms for both teams, both Reitz and Central, shooting shirts, and then there’s a lot of t-shirts that have both Reitz and Central on the t-shirts,” said Reitz head coach Mike Adams.

Fans can purchase the shirts for just $10 and all of the proceeds will go to Hicks’ family.

“His family just means the world to me and to our program and so yeah that just adds to it of us just wanting to give back and help,” added Adams.

Players can purchase the jerseys they wear on friday, and what they don’t purchase will be auctioned to the public.

“I’m definitely going to keep mine,” added Herdes. “At first we didn’t know what they looked like but we got to see them today and yesterday. I like them a lot, plus where the money means more than anything so we’ll all buy ours.”

As much as it’s a great opporunity to help hicks’ family, it’s also a chance for each team to learn.

“We’ve talked a little bit with our guys about the lifelong lessons of the resiliency that he’s had to go through, the struggles, the hospital,” said Central head coach Rodney Walker. “Things that you have to go through in life to overcome and it’s another obstacle that it’s good for our guys to see this and see someone come through the other side and have that strength to come back and be in our community again.”

And although there’s still that big cross-town rivalry, the teams have something that brings them together.

“It’s cool to see both sides come together and play for something that’s not really just all about winning or losing. In the end that’s not all that matters,” said Herdes.

“It’s an awesome opportunity for us to talk about how things in life are bigger than you,” said Walker. “Give an opportunity to give back for someone that’s put their life on the line for the betterment of our community.”

The game will be held at Reitz at 5:30pm on Friday, January 28. If you purchase a shirt for $10, you’ll be admitted into the game for free.