NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — Mayor Jon Mitchell and others gat at Ashley Park's basketball court for a special dedication ceremony honoring New Bedford native Thomas Barao.

Barao was honored as someone who had continuously reflected New Bedford values and always found ways to give back to the city he loved.

READ MORE: New Bedford's Ashley Park Transformed With New Upgrades

Thomas Barao's Impact in New Bedford

Barao grew up on Borden Street, and most days went to Ashley Park to play basketball. All the dribbling, shooting, and playing pick-up games paid off as Barao became one of New England's best basketball players.

The six-foot-three lefty scored a record of 1,544 points in his three varsity seasons from 1965-1968, leading New Bedford High to back-to-back Greater Boston League championships in his junior and senior years while being named league MVP both seasons.

He went on to play basketball at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Rhode Island before embarking on a career with executive search firms, including starting his own firm in the 1990s.

Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media
Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media

"Tom Barao was a basketball legend in Greater New Bedford and universally admired on and off the court, "Mayor Mitchell said. "He spent countless hours honing his craft at Ashley Park. That same court fittingly will forever honor his name."

Barao's daughter Amy Barao Kullar summed her father's personality by pointing to his compassion, generosity and work ethic, which she said impacted people the most.

"The foundation for everything he had achieved in life was laid on this court and he was a really wonderful person," she said. "Everything that was said about him and his work ethic and his drive is all true. He was a very humble person."

Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media
Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media

Barao continued to be a role model to his peers and community on and off the court.

After years of coaching his children's basketball, baseball and soccer teams, Barao unexpectedly passed away on March 30, 2017.

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The Future of New Bedford's Ashley Park

Today, as kids play basketball on the court dedicated to Barao, they will witness what a man can become in the city and be reminded of his legacy for generations to come.

Plans are being discussed to resurface the court over the next few years, the latest in a line of recent investments in the Goulart Square Neighborhood.

Earlier this week, Mayor Mitchell cut the ribbon to officially mark the completion of the year-long $1.7 million renovation of the park.

Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media
Ariel Dorsey/Townsquare Media

North Star Learning Center is opening a new early education facility nearby, with construction visible from Rivet Street

In the next few years, a new elementary school will be built to replace the Congdon and Devalles schools.

New Bedford's Renovated Ashley Park 2024

Mayor Jon Mitchell celebrated the official upgraded renovations to Ashley Park on the corner of Rivet and Orchard Streets.

Gallery Credit: Ariel Dorsey

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