Kids and teens from across Boston and Revere came together at UMass Boston last Wednesday, April 22, with prosecutors, victim advocates, and celebrity coaches – including the Independent News Group’s editor Cary Shuman – at District Attorney Dan Conley’s seventh annual Basketball for Peace tournament.
“So many times when we hear about violent crime in Boston, we hear about this neighborhood fighting with that neighborhood, or this street fighting with that one, or even one block against another,” Conley said to the assembled group of about 100 kids between 12 and 15. “But the truth is, most young people in this city aren’t fighting. You’re going to school. You’re playing sports. You’re hanging out with your friends. And every one of you deserves the opportunity to do that safely, with the support of those of us in law enforcement.”
Conley organized the annual games seven years ago to supplement the Soccer for Peace tournament he’s hosted each summer since taking office. The goal is to bring kids together with each other and with the law enforcement professionals who protect them, building bridges between individuals and forging bonds with prosecutors. Conley’s assistant district attorneys, victim advocates, civilian investigators, and support staff all turned out in force to referee, distribute uniforms, serve food, and otherwise assist in the games.
The games were held this year at UMass Boston – a school, Conley said, that has turned out political leaders, visionaries in science and technology, and countless successful men and women who sought a world-class education in the heart of Boston.
As in prior years, Conley named a handful of public figures as honorary captains and role models for the kids: Steve Burton, sports director for WBZ-TV news; Michael Holley, legendary sports reporter and current WEEI radio host; Brian Salmand, anchor for FOX-25 news; Cary Shuman, editor in chief of the Independent Newspaper Group; and Jermaine Wiggins, former New England Patriots player and current Hot 96.7 radio personality.
Former Boston Celtics power forward and current Boston Celtics consultant Leon Powe was the day’s featured guest speaker.
As a special gift, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate pledged a free VIP tour for every young player who attended.
The youngsters represented teams from the Blackstone Community Center; the Bromley Heath Tenant Management Corporation; St. Peter’s Teen Center; the New Academy Estates; Codman Academy Charter High School; Project RIGHT Inc.; the Revere Police Athletics League; and the South Boston Community Center.