Seeking to save Suffolk’s youth

Published 9:26pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Former National Basketball Association player and Suffolk native Michael Britt will be hosting a basketball event called “Communities Coming Together” at Lakeland High School on June 28 and 29 that illustrates what he is trying to do for Suffolk’s youth.

Britt
Britt

While the event will feature old school basketball teams from Suffolk’s former high schools, it is designed for local kids. It will help keep them off the street, perhaps give some players another opportunity at a college scholarship and provide instruction to help them avoid bad life choices.

“I just don’t want to see a young person have to go through what I went through, because they just may not survive,” Britt said.

He went from being a professional basketball player overseas to being swept up in drugs. His career was destroyed, and he was in and out of prison over the course of 18 years.

“If they’re already entertaining something negative, it may spark them to say, ‘No, I don’t want to do that because I’m not ready for the consequences that Mr. Britt suffered,’” he said.

After coming to know Jesus Christ personally in 2010, his life was turned around.

It was seven years ago, however, that he remembered first having the vision of wanting to help young people.

He said that his family’s non-profit organization, Britt-Quinn Enterprise Inc., was involved with “tutoring and providing a safe house for those people that were coming out of prison that didn’t have a place to go. It was started in a house, to educate them on slowly re-establishing themselves back into the community.”

Britt has expanded this mission statement to focus on youth, largely through basketball.

Before the first games on June 28, groups such as the Western Tidewater Community Services Board will speak to all the kids who will play in the event about gangs, drugs and violence.

After this, players from the old Suffolk High School will face off against those from John F. Kennedy High School, and Forest Glen High School will play John Yeates High School.

Multiple professional-amateur teams will come from out of state, and the main event will pit the Style Shop Superstars, a local team featuring professional, overseas ballplayers against a Washington D.C. pro-am squad.

But in between these games, kids ranging in age from junior varsity to potentially 19 and over will play.

Britt wants kids to avoid his bad choices, but there is at least one thing about his childhood that he would like to mirror theirs — the receiving of a college scholarship.

When he was 15, he was part of a basketball program put on through the Birdsong Recreation Center. It fielded local teams, which hosted squads from Connecticut one year, and then sent the local kids on the road to Connecticut to face off the next year.

“That’s how I got my scholarship, believe it or not, to go to college through just playing and somebody saw me,” he said. “Had I not been participating or the city of Suffolk or Birdsong Recreation had not had that program, I probably would have been worse off.”

“My scholarship was to the University of the District of Columbia, where I was an All-American for three years, I was drafted second round by the Washington Bullets, I played overseas for eight years, in various countries, I traveled around the world,” he said.

While not everyone will go on to a career like that, Britt still hopes that events like “Communities Coming Together” will provide a second chance for Suffolk’s youth who might have been previously overlooked by scouts.

“What I have done is I e-mail the universities about my event that I have here,” he said.

The event is made possible by sponsors, like Mike Duman Auto Sales, and through grants and donations.

Britt has been invited to bring a team to play at his college alma mater later this summer, possibly in front of a school scout, and he is actively seeking donations to make this trip possible.

For the “Communities Coming Together” event, there will be a price of $3 for admission each day, and all the proceeds go to the Lakeland High School basketball team.

For further information on the event, contact Michael Britt at 758-4501 or at mpbirdbritt@gmail.com.

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