Beaming Message of Hope

February 1, 2012

by: DEON J. HAMPTON World staff writer
Sunday, September 19, 2010
9/19/2010 5:26:42 AM

Antioch Baptist Church brought in a three-time NBA champion to help inspire young people as it unveiled a revamped youth ranch Saturday in north Tulsa.

Pastor M.C. Potter said the Cecil Lawrence Potter Community Youth Ranch, located at 5136 N. Osage, will be a place for recreation and youth activities.

The ranch sits on seven acres of land, which the church leases from the city. It features a basketball and volleyball court, as well as a weight room and classroom space inside a home on the property.

However, the home is dilapidated, the basketball court needs resurfacing, and the weight room is inside the home's garage.

City Councilor Jack Henderson attended the event and said repairs are costly and that the city should donate the land because of its poor condition.

"This is a haven for kids to go and stay out of trouble," Henderson said.

Nicholas Foster of Tulsa said he wanted to celebrate and support his neighborhood.

Foster, 14, said he is the cousin of Qualynn Dabney, a 14-year-old who was killed during an attempted convenience store robbery Thursday night.

"He was a nice person; I think someone influenced him," Foster said.

Potter said Dabney is an example of why the ranch is important.

"The kid could have been here," Potter said.

Jamika Roberts, a 14-year-old Antioch member, said teens face drugs and pregnancy issues every day and that turning away is difficult.

"I overcome by going to church and listening to my pastor," she said.

Former Los Angeles Lakers forward A.C. Green, the featured speaker, told the audience he was a below-average student his first two years in high school before eventually making the honor roll.

Later, he reminisced about the day that changed his life - Aug. 2, 1981.

He remembered being in church and listening as a minister asked the congregation: "Do you want to go to heaven or hell?"

Green had recently been named a high school All-American and won a state championship in Oregon. He had a new car and a scholarship to Oregon State University.

"When I heard the message, something spoke to me inside," Green said. "I realized I'm religious, but I don't know God."

All of a sudden, there was more to life than hoops.

"My life had to be more than running up and down a basketball court," he said.

Green, who made the NBA All-Star team in 1990, used his speech to promote abstinence. He remained celibate until he married after his basketball career.

Myles Tease of Tulsa said he came to hear about Green and the obstacles he overcame.

He also wanted to know if Green had any game left.

"Hopefully, I can play him one-on-one," said Tease, 14.

Close to 250 people were in attendance, including teachers, students and the University of Tulsa women's basketball team. Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard urged community leaders to stay involved.

Before speaking, Green participated in a question-and-answer session where he fielded queries such as "Are you friends with Kobe Bryant?" and "How was it playing against Michael Jordan?"

Foster asked, "Can I have Magic Johnson's phone number?"

Green answered: "I left that phone in my hotel room! By the way, what would you have asked him?"

Foster responded: "To come live with me!"