Annual MLK Basketball Tournament Benefits Local Foster Children

Lincoln High School warms up before taking on Lake Minneola H.S. (Marjorie Pierre/The Famuan)

High School basketball teams from across the nation sprinted up and down the court at Rickards high school in a three-day charity event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The fifth annual MLK Inspire Community basketball tournament featured some of the nation’s top basketball players, who showcased their talents to help raise funds for Inspire Group Incorporation. Lincoln, Godby, and Gadsen were some of the local schools participating in the tournament.

The Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau report shows more than 400,000 children were in foster care in the fiscal year of 2013. More than 200,000 children entered the foster care system as of September of 2014, and  there are over 100,000 still waiting to be adopted.

Inspire Group Inc. is a community-based organization that provides housing for male foster youths in Tallahassee.

“Our goal is to reduce risk-taking behavior in males by providing academic, health and social services to promote positive life outcomes,” CEO Avery Curry said.

Curry said he was inspired to start the organization after he and a childhood friend made a promise to give back to the community once they left their foster homes and became men.

He said the money raised would give the foster youths in the organization a sense of “normality,” helping fund items that the average American might take for granted.  He said the proceeds from last year went toward providing the young men with televisions in their room at their foster homes.

Curry said the MLK tournament not only benefits the foster kids in his organization but also exposes local high school basketball players and fans to teams they wouldn’t regularly play.

“We wanted to bring some good basketball to Tallahassee,” Curry said. “I grew up here. I played basketball here, and I wanted to bring some good talent to the city.”

Players from Miami to North Carolina came out in support of the fundraiser event. Local Lincoln High School player Trey Thomas said it is his first time participating in the MLK tournament and that it was a rewarding experience.

“It feels great to be a part of the MLK tournament knowing that it’s for a good cause and helping out the community,” Thomas said.

Rickards High School Head Basketball coach Eli A. Bryant said the tournament is about more than just basketball. He noted that players have the opportunity to compete with teams outside their district.

He said the players can gain good exposure from not only other teams, but from college scouts as well.

“It’s a competitive tournament,” Bryant said. “And every team this time of year is looking for good competition.”

For more information on Inspired Group Inc. and the donation process, visit The website goes in-depth on how the proceed from the tournament will be spent as well as additional information on the organization's future events.