Sunday, May 22, 2022

Former North Mississippi Resident Drafted to the NHL Los Angeles Kings staff report
Akil Thomas made his home in DeSoto County as a preschooler while his father Kahlil starred for the Memphis RiverKings hockey team in 2001-2004. Akil Thomas has now grown into a hockey star and was drafted Saturday, June 30, by the Los Angeles Kings as a high second-round pick.
The 18-year-old now lives in Toronto, Canada, but credits his childhood friend Noah Costa with getting him into hockey in DeSoto County. 
Noah died in a tragic accident at the age of 16 but continued to impact Akil’s career through the Noah’s Gift Fund established at the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi in his memory. When he was 14, Thomas applied for a grant from the fund designed to provide extraordinary experiences for worthy young people. He received a $555 grant that allowed him to move to a competitive hockey team in Toronto.
“Hockey has made me work hard in everything I do and really shaped me into what type of person Noah was,” Thomas said.
Thomas supplemented the grant by starting a small T-shirt business that has evolved into its own brand, Zake Apparel.

Akil Thomas tweeted June 23 his excitement for being selected to the Los Angeles Kings as a high second-round pick.

He has been unable to participate in the annual Noah’s Gift 5K Run-Walk-Skate event in Hernando that raises funds for the awards, but he has advertised it with his T-shirts, wristbands and even a tattoo with Noah’s number, 55.
In high school, Thomas was recognized with his school’s top community service leader award and represented it at a “Me to We” foundation event at Air Canada Centre with many celebrities.
This year he was an alternate captain of his Niagara IceDogs team and has played on Canada’s World Juniors team for two seasons.
Thomas is among 20 young people who have received extraordinary experiences with educational grants from Noah’s Gift fund at the Community Foundation. More grants will be available from funds raised at the next Noah’s Gift 5K Run-Walk-Skate on Oct. 27. More information is available at The Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi in Hernando.