NBRPA Gives Back with FULL COURT PRESS: Prep for Success Program

June 20, 2014

Hayley Glatter

Six former NBRPA Legends,, three organizations and more than 200 kids came together in Chicago on June 14 to participate in the NBRPA’s FULL COURT PRESS: Prep for Success program. Johnny Newman, Roger Brown, Jeff Sanders, Kenny Battle, Emmette Bryant and Kevin Porter kicked off the event with a skills clinic, going through various drills with the participants who ranged in age from 10 to 16 years old.

FULL COURT PRESS is full-day basketball and life-skills clinic program for underserved boys and girls ages 10-16 in cities across the United States. The program is designed to provide underserved youth with a day-long learning session of basketball and life skills, followed by regular follow-up contact to encourage life-long habits that lead to good physical and mental health. This touring program visits 10-15 cities annually. Life skills sessions include cyber safety, anti-bullying, financial literacy, health & wellness and more. Currently, the program is a joint initiative of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), the National Urban League (NUL) and the Police Athletic Association (PAL).

NBRPA Board Member Johnny Newman, who is also actively involved in PAL, led the basketball program and said he related to the kids he worked with on-court.

“When I was coming through, I had dreams that I wanted to be a great basketball player, and there were some other friends and classmates that didn’t want to do that … So guess what? We couldn’t be friends,” said Newman, a 16-year NBA veteran. “It got hard sometimes, and I know it gets hard for (these kids). But if you want to do the right thing, you have to let go. Sometimes you have to take the trash out.”

The unique aspect of FULL COURT PRESS is that it isn’t just a basketball program – it’s just as much about life skills and healthy lifestyle choices. In classroom sessions, participants discuss what makes a good or bad choice and PAL President Chris Hill said events like FULL COURT PRESS are crucial in breaking down the barrier between underserved youth and police officers.

“[We’re] showing that police officers have a heart, we have kids, and we want to make sure that they understand that we want them to be successful – just like we want our own kids to be successful,” Hill said. “That’s why we go out and touch flesh.”

In one enrichment session, a group of 14-year-olds peppered Chicago Police Officer Phillip Johnson with questions ranging from criminal citations to their future college careers.  Johnson said he was blown away by the kids’ dreams to become mechanics, veterinarians and actresses, and emphasized that police officers can help them stay on the right track in order to reach these goals.

“I hope kids learned to trust police officers and know that we can help guide them into other situations and other activities,” Johnson said. “Our main purpose is to keep them safe, get them involved in other things … feel safe about their communities and know that we can help.”

Linda Collazo, whose 16-year-old son Ramon Collazo Jr. plays AAU basketball for the Chicago Steam, said that her son has learned incredibly valuable life lessons from basketball. Not only has he become a better leader and team player, but he also has kept his grades up. Collazo said she thinks events like this have the capacity to inspire similar positive changes in other kids.

“When I grew up, we were taught that the police are our friends,” Collazo said. “Unfortunately, a generation is coming up, and they’re not looking at this that way. So, this a great opportunity for them to see the police in a different light.”