What’s crazy is that this story almost wasn’t written. And that I almost decided not to partake in this journey that would lead me to something I would later love doing for the rest of my life. But I said yes instead of no and so the story goes. Two summers ago, I went to visit my mom and my older brother Erik in Charlotte, North Carolina. Where we call home, also home to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. Usually when I make this trip every year I’m really just relaxing, kicking it with my brother and his friends, enjoying the city and my mom’s company. This trip wasn’t anything out of the ordinary until I woke up one morning and my brother asked me a question. But before I tell it to you, understand that I had put the game of basketball down for a whole year. Trying to bury that life behind me after realizing it wouldn’t take me any further than high school. I was completely wrong.
My brother then asked me if I wanted to help out with this basketball camp for kids ran by former Charlotte Hornet point guard Muggsy Bogues. At first I was intimidated, knowing it was a basketball camp hosted by an NBA player I thought immediately that I would need a certain level of skill to be able to teach the kids the right way. So when my brother asked me, I had said yes at first but in the back of my head I knew I didn’t want to do it, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be knowledgable enough. I was planning on telling him no later on but as the date for the camp crept up closer and closer I had a feeling in my chest just telling me to get out there and do it.
I got out there and did it. The Muggsy Bogues Back To School Camp ran for five days straight Monday to Friday. That first initial Monday I felt like a complete outsider, that new kid in school feeling was in full effect. The other volunteers had been doing this camp for years and knew each other like family so I felt unwelcomed. But as we started working with the kids and they saw that I knew what I was doing they later accepted me. The feeling the kids gave me was even greater, not only just teaching them the game of basketball and honing their skills but just the relationship factor we built after those five days were over. I loved it so much I knew I wanted to do it again next year. And as an added bonus, Muggsy was always walking around watching us teach and complimenting us on our knowledge. An actual NBA player! The time I had was just great, I had felt so good about the camp that I knew I wanted to create my own someday with the same atmosphere.
There’s a lot I’m leaving out here obviously, I could speak about the individual kids I built special relationships with, who got a lot better, what Muggsy told me about guarding Michael Jordan. A lot happened in that gym that summer. As much as I was shunning the game of basketball out of my life after high school it found it’s way back to me. That’s what inspired Play For Keeps. Once I got back to Houston I knew I wanted to start early and develop a following and a team to get behind my dream. The dream to start a sports academy right here in 3rd Ward, Houston. Starting off with basketball and hopefully expanding out to other sports as I expand the team with people that have those expertise in those other sports. I want to give a huge thank you to Muggsy Bogues for making me feel at home the whole time at the camp. I want to thank the kids for not giving me a hard time and really listening to what I had to say, that gave me the confidence to know I can do the same things here. Lastly, I want to thank my brother Erik. For always being someone I looked up to and inspired to be. For asking me to participate in this camp, I never knew it would turn out like this. I’ll see you at the top E! Muggsy you can’t guard me either!