Stenciled affirmations are painted on the walls inside of the recreation room at the Overtown Youth Center, but the lyrics of legendary hip hop artist Nas’ 2003 single I Can speak loudest from the concrete in bold, black, graffiti-like lettering. Though the rapper suggests that nothing is impossible, he warns, “Nothing comes easy.”
Former Heat star Alonzo Mourning’s life is a testimony that while nothing comes easy, greatness can be achieved. As Mourning attests, however, “Nothing can be accomplished without the help of others.”
On Mar. 5, South Florida lawyers and legal aides teamed up to help strengthen OYC’s holistic efforts by taking their competitiveness from the courtroom to the basketball court for Mourning’s second annual Hoop-Law Basketball Tournament.
The fundraiser is the brainchild of Candy Sicle, co-board chairman of the community center. According to Sicle, the purpose of the event is to create a partnership between the robust legal community that exists in downtown Miami and residents of neighboring Overtown, while also raising awareness of the “wonderful programs the OYC has for the kids and families of Overtown.” Sicle said engaging lawyers who have discretionary income and are looking to give back is important because “there is room and [plenty] of opportunities for improving, enhancing and moving forward with the programs available here.”
Mourning said of the event, “I am grateful to have been able to formulate an alliance with the legal community to create an atmosphere wherein basketball can be used for fun and as a tool to educate them on the work we do to provide recreational and educational opportunities for the young people at the OYC.”
Stephen Marino, an attorney and board chairman of the OYC spoke directly to his cohorts to urge them to see “first-hand” the work being done at the OYC. By showcasing the multi-faceted components of the center, Marino said he anticipates his peers will become both “excited and encouraged to want to participate in the great things we have going on over here.”
Marino added, “We are not just an after school program with classrooms for tutoring and a Comcast-donated computer room to assist kids with their homework.” He said the initiatives of the center also promote entrepreneurship via its recording studio and clinical and social services.
The three-on-three tournament was made up of 18 teams vying for the coveted title as 2016 Hoop-Law champions, but a highlight of the event was the Old School vs. New School half-time game during which players from eliminated firms were pitted against Booker T. Washington Senior High School’s junior varsity basketball team. The old school team was manned by Mourning while the new school was coached by WSVN sports anchor Donovan Campbell. The new school went on to claim victory with a score of 27-11.
During the event’s championship game, last year’s winning team, made up of ballers from law firms Eaton & Wolk, Harke, Clasby & Bushman, LLP, Levine, Kellog, Lehman, Schneider and Grossman, LLP and Vasallo Law, were able to take home another victory thanks to a last minute three-point shot by Levine’s Matt McGuane. With the basket by McGuane, nicknamed “Steph Curry” for the event, his team narrowly defeated Darfoor’s Law team, 15-14.