The air in the gym is thick with anxiety and tension. With only 4 seconds left on the clock and just a few inches past half-court, he shoots. Mouths gaping wide and eyes nearly bulging out of their sockets, the gym is silent as the ball travels through the air and directly into the basket. The shot counts, a game-winner, and no one understands that feeling more than Moises Strife.
“I started playing basketball when I was about 10 years old,” Strife said. “I played quite a bit of sports actually starting with baseball when I was 6. I was just a busy, hyper kid. I think basketball stuck the most to me because it was the most accessible, just need a ball and a hoop, and the rest is on you.”
Strife is now a 22-year-old student at Florida A&M University, and his dedication to the sport has taken on a new meaning. Growing up in Miami, the son of a single mother, he understands the hardships of living paycheck to paycheck and remembers the sacrifices he and his family had to endure. That sometimes meant not having enough resources to join recreational sports or even participate in simple craft projects like his peers. This experience as well as the COVID-19 pandemic sparked Strife to team up with the local Boys & Girls Club in his hometown to raise money to purchase sports gear such as balls, cones, flags and athletic wear for children in the community. While looking for a way to incorporate the non-athletic children, books, board games, painting materials, and coloring books were also given away.
“The pandemic just really got me going,” he said. “Kids are sitting at home all day, their parents have to work, and you never know someone’s living conditions. I knew I had to get out there and help. Anyway I could, even if it was just one child, I wanted to help.”
Many of the members of the community say they are abundantly appreciative of Strife’s initiative and his dedication to giving back. In fact, a few friends of Strife’s said that this is his typical behavior and that he has been recognized as a mentor to young kids in the neighborhood since he was in high school.
“This fundraiser Moises put together is right up his alley,” said Makayla Sampson, a third-year engineering major at FAMU. “We’ve been good friends since 10th grade and he was mentoring kids in the city even back then. He’s well-known in Miami because he’s super involved in the neighborhoods, like literally everyone loves him.”
Although Strife takes great pride in his work and accomplishments, he still dedicates much of his communal work to the influence of his two older brothers, Jackson and Dione Strife.
“My brother Jackson was the one who got me involved with being a student mentor when I was 15,” he said. “I thought the whole time I was helping my mentees but now I really see that they were helping me. If it wasn’t for that program I probably wouldn’t be the same man I am today.”
It is no doubt that Strife has many in Miami-Dade County rallying behind him, but it seems much of his value is placed in the opinions of his family; as those are the ones who count the most to him. Strife’s brother Dione let it be known that he couldn’t be more proud of his little brother’s bright future and says it was expected of him.
“We were raised around really good men and women,” Dione said. “Our mother is a phenomenal woman with much respect attached to her name. That’s why my brothers and I try to live our lives helping others and doing the right thing. I wouldn’t have expected anything less of [Moises]. He was always so outgoing and friendly with others.”
Strife says he is already thinking of what he can do next for his community. He has got a lot of work to do but cannot be discouraged with such a superior support system backing him the whole way.