Indianapolis' Black Expo
Celebrity basketball game offers inner-city youth chance to meet role models
July 17, 2015
Saving our youth was the message community philanthropist Amp Harris started spreading across Indianapolis 20 years ago.
With help from former Pacers point guard Jerome “Pooh” Richardson, Harris started the “Saving Our Youth” celebrity basketball game with a goal to give inner-city youth an outlet to interact with celebrities. The game is held each year during Indiana Black Expo’s Summer Celebration, and will be played Saturday (July 18) at 6 p.m. in the Indiana Convention Center, Hall J. The event is free with the $10 cost of admission to the center.
Former Indiana Pacer Pooh Richardson was the first celebrity to play in the game, according to Lisa Patton, a public relations professional said. Former Indianapolis Colt Edgerrin James assisted, then former Indianapolis Colt Reggie Wayne stepped in. “He’s been involved with the event, both playing and helping sponsor it ever since,” Patton said.
Every year the Saving Our Youth Foundation sponsors a community outreach event throughout the city to talk to youth, letting them know they do not have to play sports or be a rapper to be famous. There are other ways to be successful.
“This is much more than a basketball game,” Patton said. “This a time to reach our youth, talk to them and let them know that there is positivity in our race.”
This year’s game will be bittersweet, Patton said, because Wayne, who was presented the key to the city by Indianapolis Mayor Greg BallardFriday, didn’t re-sign with the Colts and will be playing for another team in another city next year.
“We really want to do something special for Reggie,” Patton said. “This is probably going to be his last time playing in this game. We have former and current Colts players coming into town to play and celebrate him and his accomplishments.”
This year’s game will return celebrities such as musician Trevor Jackson, actor Flex Alexander and comic Lil JJ. It will also bring some new faces such as Pacers players Paul George and George Hill and Colts players TY Hilton and Gary Brackett.