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Nation's leading scorer in college basketball builds foundation to help kids

Denver BYU Basketball
Posted at 9:41 PM, Jan 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-26 13:01:44-05

The leading scorer in all of college basketball lives right here in Denver.

But those 25.2 points per game pale in comparison to Tommy Bruner's impact off the court.

"I'm going to build schools from the ground up," says Bruner.

There's a look in his eye when he says that — this isn't just a dream for the graduate student studying psychology at the University of Denver. This is an expectation, built on a plan, to help his community.

Bruner founded The Be Different Foundation, a nonprofit built to help kids.

“As a kid, I was always helped," says Bruner. "I think it’s important for kids to have people to look up to and for them to get a good education because they’re our next generation and we’re going to depend on them one day.”

The first donation from Bruner's foundation came in December of 2023, when he made Christmas for more than 800 kids a little more merry. Along with members of the DU basketball team, they distributed toys and other gifts to folks in Denver.

“I was there," says the Pioneers' head coach Jeff Wulbrun. "The smile from ear to ear [on Bruner], he’s passionate about what he’s doing, that on its own merit is a big story.”

"It was just a good feeling seeing them happy," says Bruner.

How does a college student playing Division 1 basketball manage to run a foundation? While he does have some help, it's mostly about budgeting time wisely.

“We all get the same 24 hours," says Bruner. "You might need 8-10 to sleep. Basketball’s a couple of hours, class is a couple hours, and then the rest of the day is yours. The main thing is when people call me and say 'Hey can you show up to this' - whether it’s a kid or an adult - I always show up.”

Nation's leading scorer in college basketball builds foundation to help kids

“He’s just kind of run with it," says Wulbrun. "He’s made the phone calls and partnered with the different agencies, he has a plan, it’s so impressive.”

The next step in Bruner's plan includes building parks in Aurora, but his sights are set on even larger construction projects.

"I know what it’s going to turn into, it’s going to turn into schools," says Bruner. "From pre-school all the way [up]. What we’re going to do is give a kid who has a 0-percent chance of going to college [and give them a] 100-percent chance of going to college.”

Bruner is set to graduate from DU soon with a minor in business and a psychology major - he then hopes to go to law school. Meanwhile, the Be Different Foundation is in its infancy, with big expectations for what it will become.

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