Thursday, April 24, 2014 12:12 PM
Photo by Kayla Faria. Professional boxer Anthony Peterson shares a laugh with fighter Thomas “Top Dog” Williams as event host and actor Jermaine Crawford scans the crowd. The three were teammates in the Code Blue all-star game that raised money for homeless youth in Prince George’s County on Saturday.
Published on: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
By Kayla Faria
Players inbounded the ball off their opponents’ back in typical street ball style, but there was no retaliation. They were playing for the same team – the same street.
Code Blue, an organization launched by actor Jermaine Crawford, hosted an all-star game Saturday in Upper Marlboro to benefit Promise Place, the only emergency teen shelter in Prince George’s County, which opened its doors after Crawford’s organization raised about $200,000 for homeless youth.
Washington Redskins receivers Niles Paul and Joshua Morgan, actors from the HBO hit series “The Wire,” fighters Dusty Harrison, Lamont Peterson and Anthony Peterson and famous streetballer Randy “White Chocolate” Gill headlined the all-star rosters at the Henry A Wise Jr. High School gymnasium.
Photo by Kayla Faria. A player waits to start the second half of Saturday’s Code Blue all-star game organized to raise money for Prince George’s County homeless youth.
“It was more show-offy,” Harrison, the 6-foot tall Welterweight said of the game. “Nobody wanted to check ‘White Chocolate’ and look dumb.”
The location and roster choices were deliberate.
“I wanted to do something for youth by youth (that) people my age could truly enjoy,” Crawford said. “I’m a guy from PG County giving back to kids from PG County.”
More than 140 of the nation’s 1.8 million homeless youth were identified in Prince George’s County in 2012, according to statistics cited by Code Blue.
Photo by Kayla Faria. Famous streetballer Randy “White Chocolate” Gill celebrates after scoring a basket Saturday at the Code Blue all-star game to raise money for homeless youth in the county.
“When I found out that was a reality for a lot of people that were my age, I couldn’t not do something about it,” the 20-year-old Code Blue CEO said.
Harrison has also seen how homelessness has hit friends in Prince George’s County and the District, while driving through cities with his dad. He has reached out to shelter leaders to try to organize free gym training for homeless youth to “give them something to do outside of (the) shelter.”
“At the gym, we have a lot of kids that came from, you know, group homes, shelters,” he said. “It’s good that this is for kids to help them, so they’re not like this for the rest of their life.”
Crawford aimed to “revive the youth in their own backyards” by starting on the hardwood.
For 13-year-old Jonathan Craft, who has personally experienced homelessness, the game offered more than cool street ball tricks and big-time dunks.
It was a chance for homeless youth to “be around” comforting people who “know how to have fun.”
“Basketball (is) something we teens do,” Craft said. “Reaching out to people, it’s all about that.”
The 13-year old from Mitchellville has lived in shelters in the District and Prince George’s County. He considers Crawford a “brother,” even though he has no blood relation.
Hip hop artist Chris Landry came to support “the homies,” actors Crawford and Nathan Corbett. The 18-year-old homeschooled senior who signed with Bobby Valentino’s label Blu Kolla Dreams said reaching out to youth at their level through basketball is crucial.
“It changes lives,” Landry said.