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Kids learn perseverance at youth basketball tip-off

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – More than a hundred youth basketball players and their families learned valuable life lessons Saturday at the city’s youth basketball tip-off.

It’s often said that keeping kids busy is the key to keep them away from the influence of drugs and violence.

With a little help from Darnell Hillman, best known as Dr. Dunk from his days with the Pacers, the city’s youth basketball league tipped off to do just that.

“Winners never quit and quitters never win,” Hillman said, as he shared life lessons with the youth while explaining what it takes to get to pro basketball’s highest level. “Everybody just sees the glamour and the glory and the money that these guys make, but they don’t see the hard work, the number of hours that are spent going in day in and day out.”

The city parks department is trying to reach out to young people on the hardwood, with another season of free youth basketball for kids ages 10 to 18 to give the kids a positive influence in their lives.

But for many of these kids who will find another path in life, they’re hoping young people get the message to stay away from the wrong influences.

“You’ve got to make the right choices to stay in sports and stay alive and stay out of jail and stay smart,” Nehemiah Jones, a player in the league, said.

“Basketball helps out a lot, and when you can build confidence in a kid that may not have nothing at home to eat, or may not have the latest fashions, it helps out a whole lot,” Anthoney Hampton, one of the league’s coaches, said.

Another season in the gym is more than just who wins and loses or who leads the team in scoring. Leaders say they want to help these kids overcome obstacles both on and off the court.

“Too many times, you see too many kids fall down, and when they fall down they don’t know how to get up,” Hillman said. “So they either lay down there in it, or when they do get up, they go right back to what got them in trouble rather than ‘Hey, I need to change, and what am I going to do to make the change?’”