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The Chicago organization “Hoop Hard or Get Off the Court” held a basketball tournament in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK). The event took place Saturday, January 19, at Saint Sabina Church.
The occasion started at 10 a.m. with the games running until late in the evening. The teams were members of the Peace League, with one team traveling from as far as Kankakee, Illinois.
Larry Daniels started “Hoop Hard or Get Off the Court” in 2000 as a sanctuary for the youth. The organization holds multiple annual basketball events with children of all ages. Daniels held another event back in November where youth played with Chicago Police Officers.
Last year, Daniels held a midnight league for the high school students beginning at 5 p.m., with the previous game starting around midnight. He plans to continue this competition with grammar school boys and girls this summer.
This particular event honors the legacy of MLK a few days earlier than the official holiday. It was meant to introduce the civil rights leader to those who did not know about him.
Its a great way for them to learn and start doing their history on what he means to us as Black people.
Bits and pieces of MLK’s speeches were played frequently throughout the event. Daniels partnered with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Fr. Michael L. Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church to put on the event. The reverend and many police officers were cheering on players from the sidelines.
Providing A Safe Haven for Chicago Youth
When it comes to his mission in general, Daniels wants to see more youth with a positive outlet.
My main goal is: no kid left behind. Show the kids nothing but love and show them that I love them. Some parents don’t show their kids the love at home so they looking for love in the wrong places. But one thing I say is “the streets will make ’em, the streets will break ’em, and ain’t no love in these streets. Thats why I do this.
The Jesse White Tumblers also made an appearance halfway through the event. Jesse White founded the team in 1959′ Like Daniels; he hopes to get youth off of the streets. The MLK even was just one of the hundreds of performances they go to yearly.
Emmanuel McGhee is the head coach of the team that performed today. He joined the team in 2000. He hopes to continue lifting the spirits of young people both on the team and others who watch them.
Daniels hopes to open a 24-hour facility dedicated to the enrichment of the youth beyond what basketball could do. Young people would come after school to learn about anything every day of the week. They would learn skills like cooking, and pastors would teach them about the Bible.
I’m going to have somebody coming in Monday through Friday, teaching the kids about everything.
Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Leader: Uplifting Chicago’s Youth ‘Hoop Hard or Get Off the Court’; by Sheena Robertson
The Jesse White Tumblers: Training Program Information
Images courtesy of Chiagozie Onyewuchi