NBA Voices, a yearlong initiative curated by the league’s commissioner Adam Silver to address social injustice, hosted a candid conversation between NBA All-Stars, Los Angeles Police Department, members of the Brotherhood Crusade and community leaders at John Muir Middle School in Los Angeles on Thursday, Feb. 15. It was announced that the Brotherhood Crusade was selected by Golden State Warriors’ point guard Stephen Curry, captain of “Team Steph,” as the community-based organization that his team would play for during the 67th NBA All-Star Game.
“I still have chills, it’s bigger than Christmas,” President and CEO of the Brotherhood Crusade, Charisse Bremond said.
Brotherhood Crusade, a non-profit grassroots organization based in Los Angeles will receive a donation in the amount of $150,000 with Team Steph’s loss to Team LeBron on Sunday, Feb. 18 (148-145) during the All-Star game. “But, there are no losers when it comes to NBA All-Star Weekend. I was so excited that Steph Curry chose Brotherhood Crusade and I just didn’t want to see them lose out. They couldn’t lose, but now they’ve won twice.” said Erica Glazier the Principal Partner of the Golden State Warriors. Mrs. Glazier was so overwhelmed by the wonderful children and great work of the Brotherhood Crusade that after the game she called Brotherhood Crusade President Charisse Bremond Weaver and told her she was matching the gift of the NBA and Team Steph with an additional $150,000 (Bringing Brotherhoods total donations received for All-Star Weekend to $300,000.
“This is a wonderful partnership,” stated Danny J. Bakewell, Sr. – Chairman of the Board of The Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade. “The NBA, Erica Glazier of the Golden State Warriors and commissioner Adam Silver should all be applauded for all of the effort that they have put into making this All-Star event a demonstration of what a real commitment to improving the quality of life is all about.”
For more than 50 years, the Brotherhood Crusade has provided human and social services as well as resources to low-income, underserved and underrepresented individuals in the South Los Angeles community.
“They’re an incredibly special organization,” said Todd Jacobson, the NBA’s senior vice president of social responsibility. “They’re the real heroes here, we’re just giving a platform to shine light on the work that they’re doing.”
Since Bremond’s tenure at the helm of the organization, she has placed a strong emphasis on providing resources and opportunities to youth at local middle and high schools in the greater Los Angeles area.
“Having our young people from South L.A, NBA All-Stars, retired players as apart of the conversation in our community to me, that is the game changer,” Bremond commented.
NBA All-Stars James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Lillard and Andre Drummond were joined by NBA legends AC Green, Jason Collins, Muggsy Bogues, Horace Grant and Felipe Lopez and the WNBA’s Swin Cash, Imani McGee-Stafford to share their concerns with how police relations have affected urban communities.
“It’s a bright group of kids in there,” DeMarcus Cousins told the L.A. Sentinel. “I think they’re on the right path. I think they have the right mindset. Of course, the whole point of this is figuring out solutions to better the community, better the relationship between law enforcement.”
Students, law enforcement officers, community leaders and the NBA representatives were divided into small breakout groups and assigned topics ranging from a commitment to diversity.
“We discussed a lot of words and what they mean to everybody and how they can come together to make things a little more peaceful,” said Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard.
Davon Hunt, a tenth grader at Washington High School, addressed the room following the breakout sessions.
“I have been pulled over and had both negative and positive relations with the police officers, Hunt said. “Being able to understand their footsteps and the shoes they stand in and the life they live and my life puts me more at ease.”
It was a mutually receptive exchange for the officers from LAPD.
“They’ve learned how to look at me and say what they feel without being angry and for me to say ‘I hear you,’” added LAPD senior lead community officer Sean Lewis. “It was very touching because I have a daughter, so hopefully when she gets older she’ll be able to participate in something like that.”
The Brotherhood Crusade continues to provide a safe space to facilitate complicated conversations related to social justice and community engagement.
“We want them to be leaders, to have integrity, to understand what social justice is,” remarked Bremond. “They are going to be the leaders 20 years from now.”
Leaders like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade who have continued to be at the forefront of social justice issues. In 2016, four of the NBA’s premiere talent used the opening moments of the ESPYS to encourage social change.
“This isn’t just about sports, about the NBA or the NFL, it’s about a certain demographic that continues to be targeted with the police departments, the state and everything that’s involved with injustice with people of color,” said Eric Aguilar assistant program director for the Brotherhood Crusade.
Shortly after the ESPYS, the NBA partnered with the Brotherhood Crusade as the inaugural launch event for NBA Voices in Los Angeles in 2016.
“The NBA is the perfect example of what professional sports and the community who admire their players should look like,” Bakewell Sr. said.
Since then, the NBA has done nearly 300 events spanning from community conversations to building bridges through basketball and mentoring. All-Star weekend in Los Angeles was another opportunity to continue the efforts set forth by the NBA’s initiative.
“All-Star is a time when the NBA comes together, so we have the entire NBA family current and former players partners guests and it’s an opportunity to be able to use the sport to bring people together and to lift people up,” Jacobson remarked.
A group of local youth from Brotherhood Crusade were able to attend the All-Star game at Staples Center on Sunday, Feb. 18.