Building Character Through Basketball

It's all about who has the best basketball skills inside the YMCA in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. The game between Omega Psi Phi fraternity members and inner city Boston teens takes place once a month.

"We try to beat them every time," fraternity member Lenward Gatison said. "The kids are good and they're young, but we give them a good basketball game."

The meet-up is called Brunch and Ball. Each kid on the court is paired with a mentor from the fraternity, helping to show there is more to life than gangs and drugs.

"It's around them, and they can be easily influenced by it, but no, if they have strong enough character," said fraternity member Reggie Berry. "I'm a kid who was born on Columbia Road. I came from these streets."

Berry has mentored Boston students for years. With the FBI's recent raid on the violent gang MS-13, he hopes to send a message to the teens on the court.

"We are here to give the youth positive alternatives," he said. "I feel like we are here to work for them."

The monthly hangouts seemed to be working for this group of kids - especially for English High School sophomore Eli Lawrence.

"A lot of people get tied up into it, but I do my best to stay out of it, like playing basketball and coming to the Y and staying active in the community," he said.

"Our job is to show them the positives, give them the resources to stay positive, and keep moving in that direction," said Gatison.

And with the help of a basketball court, and motivation from guest speakers, these men are giving the youth a chance to stay alive and off the streets - one jumper at a time.

"You keep giving up your time to show them there are people from your hood that have made it. You can make it," explained Berry.

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