PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A unique basketball game took place Friday night at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Warwick campus.
The idea of the game, according to organizers, is to spread an inspirational message among the many instances of violence.
The second annual “Play For Peace Tour” featured more than 20 professional players from throughout the Northeast.
From the pounding of the hardwood to the rebounds off the glass, Lamonte Thomas worked his way up to play professionally in Spain. But he said he’ll never forget where he came from.
“I mean growing up as a kid basketball was all I had, you know. I went to the court to stay out of trouble. That was my place, that was my get away, the basketball court,” he told Eyewitness News. “So I try to offer as many opportunities and open gyms as I can while I’m home for the summer.”
Thomas created an organization called Build PVD and its annual ‘Play For Peace’ event – an outlet not only for kids to play basketball, but to create a positive atmosphere to bring the community, including law enforcement officers, together.
Providence Col. Hugh Clements said he watched some of his fellow officers go toe-to-toe with top high school athletes on the court.
Clements said it is especially important now to build and maintain good relationships between these officers and the community.
“It’s all about communication – it’s all about building capital along the way because it’s just incredible what’s going on in this country right now so this important,” Clements said.
Some familiar faces also came back to support the cause.
“I want kids to see positive stuff instead of negative stuff all the time so being able to come back talk to them, play in front of them – I’ll do anything for the community,” said Kadeem Batts.
“My overall goal is to bring people together, for a positive event and inspire and motivate people and try to change the future,” Thomas added.
Thomas said he is working with the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence to create an afterschool program, which will be called Dreams To Reality and will help kids reach their goals.