Milk Crate Basketball
When I was young, my parents divorced and I lived in a trailer park just north of Flint, Michigan with my younger sister and my mom.
We didn't have a lot money.
I remember these concrete slabs that were next to the trailers. It was designed as a spot for a shed to be built. We didn't have the money for a shed.
I decided that concrete slab would be my basketball court. The problem was...we didn't have the money to afford a basketball hoop.
I got creative. I built a basketball hoop. I'd find a long piece of wood, dig a hole and bam! There was the base of my hoop. Then I'd nail another square piece of wood at the top of the base and bam! I had a backboard. For the rim, you would use whatever you could find - a milk crate, a pale, whatever.
It was makeshift. But it worked. Until it would fall over.
As I grew up, I got lucky. I had my uncle and my dad.
Uncle Max, mom's younger brother, took me under his wing playing pick up basketball in and around the city of Flint with guys twice my size and my age.
Same thing happened as my dad and I both grew up (we are only 20 years apart...mom and dad were both just kids when I came into the world) -- Dad would pick me up and drive around to open gyms with guys still twice my size and twice my age. It was hard, physical basketball.
Somewhere in there, Mom eventually remarried and we moved into a house that had a concrete driveway. Our new step dad had a basketball hoop installed. Jackpot. I remember playing basketball at all hours of the day and night. It's all I knew. And in many ways, it's all I had.
We moved A LOT. I don't even know how many schools I went to. Too many to count. But I do know it was all capped off with 3 different high schools in 4 years.
Friends came and went.
I never could get into a comfort zone of playing organized basketball. My comfort zone was playground ball, pickup games, 3-on-3 tournaments, Gus Macker's, 21, etc.
Basketball was my life. If nothing else I could go outside and shoot baskets for hours at a time.
As I got older, mostly after college, I lost touch with the game that meant so much to me.
I'm now back to playing twice a week with a good group of guys here in Traverse City. I'm reminded how much I love the game. I'm reminded how far away I am from that trailer park in Flint. I drove through it recently. It was an emotional experience. It seemed like such a big trailer park when I was a little boy. Now that I'm grown up...it seemed so small. The trailers are not in good shape, and there were more empty lots than there were with trailers in them. And yes...those concrete slabs are still there.
I'm reminded that I was lucky in a lot of ways.
I'm reminded that not all kids may be as lucky.
So now I am going to do what I can to give them an assist.
Milk Crate Basketball is a NONPROFIT organization that I am in the process of building. The goal is to assist KIDS IN NEED with resources to play the game of basketball -- things like shoes, basketballs, hoops, athletic wear, etc. I even have a Board of Directors. Can you believe that?!
So Milk Crate Basketball is my way to reach out and help those kids lacking the resources or support to play basketball. Kids in a situation that is out of their control. Kids who just don't have it as good as some others. Through donations and the sale of Milk Crate Basketball gear, my plan is to be able to provide what is needed to these kids.
Do I know exactly what I am doing? Of course not. I didn't know what I was doing when I built my own milk crate hoop all those years ago...but I figured it out. And I'll figure this out.
Here's to "Giving KIDS an Assist"