Suffolk alum chase $2 million dream
Published 9:24 pm Thursday, May 5, 2016
Six former students from Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools will participate in a tournament that could win them $2 million.
Lakeland alumnus Derick Bailey is the general manager of a local basketball team called the Seven City Grain. Bailey assembled a group of former Suffolk natives to chase an opportunity to win big cash.
“We are looking for a couple of top-notch guys,” Bailey said. “I’m assembling this team to win.”
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The contest they have entered is called “The Basketball Tournament” and will allow 64 teams a shot at winning the big prize. Votes are needed to decide which teams will play. Currently, Seven City Grain has more than 700 votes.
In addition to Bailey, five other players come from Suffolk. Jaleel Nelson and Kristopher Brown also went to Lakeland, while Jaquon Parker, Davante’ Gardner and Donte Williams came from King’s Fork.
Bailey knew most of them before the tournament and although they don’t know if they will get a chance to play, he still reminisces about how the team was formed.
“It started in 2002 at the Lamont Strothers Outdoor Summer League and continued on from there,” Bailey said.
Since they all grew up in the Suffolk area, Seven City Grain was able to establish a sense of camaraderie, which allowed them to develop their skills over the years. They originally had called the team “Against The Grain,” but in order to better represent Suffolk and the Hampton Roads area, they changed the name to incorporate the seven cities.
The team members work out together and try to keep each other on the right track, whether on or off the court, Bailey said.
Donte Williams is the team’s head coach, and he understands the need for hard work and dedication. Williams was a volunteer coach at King’s Fork for a few years after graduating college and said that he really liked the experience.
“I’ve got a lot of love for that program,” he said. “If we win, I will definitely give back to King’s Fork.”
Williams recalled coaching players like Parker and Gardner while working for King’s Fork, and he used the experience to get more recruits for the team.
But Kristopher Brown recounted the time hanging out in Suffolk and how it made them better athletes.
“Lakeland was a cool place to be at, and Suffolk was a small community, allowing us to play against each other all the time,” Brown said.
If Seven City Grain enters the tournament and wins, the team has promised to give $30,000 to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
“We estimated that $30,000 would be left, but it could be more than that,” Bailey said.
To vote for Seven City Grain to be included in tournament play, visit www.thetournament.com.