Basketball is not just a sport for fans to go wild about. It’s a
discipline that goes well beyond the court and into the lives of our
community. For many who play the game basketball is their life and
for those who don’t play and are not fans in many ways basketball is
similar to life. We are usually in one or two positions in life. We
are either playing defense or we are playing offense. We are either
shooting or passing the ball aiming to beat our opponent life, before
it beats us. Some of us try to get in a few one on one games, though
I have never been a fan of the one on one. I find that two heads is
better than one so, when I met Mr. Ron Artest Sr., founder of the
non profit organization The Artest Foundation and father to Ron Artest Jr., former NBA player for the LA Lakers I knew I could not stand cheering in the bleachers.
The Artest Foundation was birthed in 2012 out of Mr. Ron Artest Sr’s. desire
to see our youth flourish instead of struggling and turning towards
guns, violence, and a street life with a dead end. Mr. Artest uses
the love of basketball to reach the youth by hosting TAF’s annual
basketball tournaments, clinics, and various educational events and
seminars. He knows that in order to be successful “our youth needs
[sic] to be aware that learning about financial literacy and education
will be a very valuable tool to help them reach their academic goals.”
Those that become student athletes typically gain the desire to do
well in school as passing in their classes awards them the opportunity
to continue playing their sport of choice. I definitely fell into
this category in my youth. I excelled as an athlete and became an
even better student as I learned of the “no pass no play” rule. My
improvements in my studies due to my love of sports landed me President of The
National Honor Society and created such strong studious habits that I
eventually landed on the Dean’s List in University. I know firsthand
the importance of what Mr. Artest Sr. is doing in our community and the
results are beyond beneficial. His mission with TAF is to;
youth to succeed in life and sports so they can increase their chances
to have a better quality life- to help arm them with proper knowledge
so that they will be able to handle the potential snares and pitfalls
Anyone who has lived, knows that there will be pitfalls and
the snares will be numerous especially the more successful one
When I met Mr. Artest Sr. a few years back I was taken by his warmth.
I am not surprised that his son, Ron Artest Jr., changed his name from “Metta World
Peace” to “The Panda’s Friend.” He even has a
entire clothing line which embodies everything a Panda Bear stands for
which he states signifies “friendship, peace, balance and abundance.”
I could not ignore the warm bearlike quality that emanated from Mr.
Artest Sr. the moment I met him. I fell in love with his mission in
our community and wanted so much to contribute in anyway that I could.
Recently, I reached out to Mr. Artest Sr. as I had been tutoring a
young boy who is brilliant yet slightly distracted from his studies.
He LOVES basketball and I knew somehow I needed to connect them two.
Mr. Artest Sr. is so influential and passionate about motivating our youth
that I knew attending one of TAF’s events would be very impactful in
creating the awareness of the importance of this young boys studies to
his future. Even more so since I have no doubt that this young boy has the potential to one day play in the NBA. Luckily, TAF will be hosting one of their basketball
clinics on December 16th at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens
and there will be plenty of basketball enthusiasts ready to learn more
about the game and so much more.
We truly have to take more time to invest in our youth, in our
communities, and each other. One of the main issues I see in society
is the lack of desire to support each other especially in the black
community. It is a mindset that is reflected amongst our people and
it keeps us in impoverished conditions when we really could be
flourishing. I love to help people get to where they are designed to
be in life and that is what Mr. Artest Sr. and TAF is all about.
TAF is a force that I choose to reckon with. I believe in the mission and
support it completely. The only thing we truly need in life to
restore balance and create effective change is the support of each
other. Find what you believe in, partner with someone in the
community that you can help make a change with. In doing so you
create a better path not only for yourself and others today, but for
generations to come.
To help support TAF go to The Artest Foundation
To learn more about The Panda’s Friend go to The Panda’s Friend
Every Bit Helps,
Photography By: Brittany Kennedy
Brittany Kennedy “Bre”
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