For those of you whom have never heard the term, DMV, it is a short acronym for Washington D.C, Maryland, and Virginia. This particular region in the US is a hot bed for talented basketball players. NBA players like Kevin Durant, Anthony, Nolan Smith, Greivis Vasquez, Ty Lawson, Sam Young, Roy Hibbert, Michael Beasley, Delonte West, Jeff, Green, Roger Mason, and Grant Hill, all have their roots from this region. Never the less, this region is also known for its’ high poverty, crime, and single parent home rates. Recently, I attended a basketball tournament hosted by Byron Mouton, former Tulane and Maryland basketball player. Briefly speaking to Mouton, he informed me about his nonprofit organization, “6th-Man Sports” and it’s role as a youth skills development AAU program for boys and girls, as well as an after-school mentoring program that involves students of all ages.
I must say, I was very impressed with the talent that was on the floor. We’re talking about 8th graders who can dribble and make lay-ups with both hands. Post players with good footwork, and some with three-point range. The moment I entered the gym and spoke with several coaches, parents, and players, I was inspired to get more involved with some of the nonprofit efforts in the DMV area. It was brought to my attention that one of the many problems that have plagued black communities in the area has been the lack of good after school programs, and the lack of responsible and supportive parents. Yes, I know I often talk about how sports and entertainment is not the best avenue for most children, but in some cases, it can be a very positive and effective means of building character and promoting family values. This happens to be one of those cases.
One of the parents I spoke with was “Keith Williams”. Keith’s son, 14 year old, Kieron “Scoota” Williams, was on the floor for an 8th grade AAU team named, “6th Man Warriors”, who just so happened to have been coached by Mouton himself. Scoota is 5’8 combo guard is a natural leader on the court. He has great handles and can use his size to penetrate and to post smaller guards on the floor. He is an excellent defender, and really knows how to pressure the ball, and play the lanes. He seems to have perfected the euro step and has natural instincts of finding his teammates with the perfect pass. As for shooting the ball, his father, Keith admits, “It’s a work in progress, it’s something he will continue to work on.” If the young guard known as “Scoota” develops a consistent jump shot, he’ll surely be in line to be one of the next greats to have come out of the DMV region by 2016, and that is saying a lot.
Getting beyond the surface of basketball, I asked Keith Williams how long he had been attending games with his son, and what he expected to gain out of bringing his son to the gym to play this game. His response was refreshing. “I’m just a father bonding with my son. No matter what his interest are, I want to always be there to support him. Right now, it just happens to be basketball, but I will support him no matter what he decides to do.” He went on to elaborate, “We need more organizations in the DMV area to promote activities and events for our children to participate in like “6th-Man Sports”. Organizations like them need more economic backings and support from people within our own communities.” After watching the 6th Man Warriors destroy their opponent, I decided to get Kieron’s take on what his father had to say. “My father has been taking me to the gym ever since I was like 3 or 4 years old. I love it because I get to spend a lot of time with him.” When asked about his goals, he informed me that he wants to play basketball professionally. “My father installed in me that my academics is the most important thing, but I like the fact that he also helps me and allows me to pursue my dream of playing basketball. If it weren’t for basketball and my father, I would probably be somewhere getting in some kind of trouble.” Scoota loosened up with a little smile once he found out I would not be using the video portion of the interview.
The Williams tandem lead me to think, what role can I play in all of this? What a great environment to get kids off the streets and to be involved in teamwork and physical activity. Then a bright light blinked in my head. This would be a great platform to collaborate with some of the coaches and nonprofit organizations in the area to promote their efforts while sharing the importance of social entrepreneurship and critical thinking education to these young people and their parents.