Westsides Michael Redd to hold local tournament

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Phil Jackson, one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, once said, “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the ‘me’ for the ‘we.’”

This statement holds true in more ways than one.

Michael Redd, player for the Milwaukee Bucks, has the same outlook on the world and he uses basketball to get his message across.

Before Redd was shooting hoops with the big-timers, he was gaining honorable mentions and setting records at The Ohio State University. Before that, he was a star at West High School, class of 1997.

Now Redd, who made the leap from Buckeye to Buck in 2000, returns to his hometown every off-season. Instead of taking a break, however, Redd makes a difference.

The Michael Redd Foundation is a non-profit organization co-founded by Redd and his wife, Achea, who were married in the summer of 2006.

The purpose of the foundation is threefold: To (1) promote the holistic development of all people, to (2) educate and develop youth and adults to succeed in life, and to (3) promote racial and denominational reconciliation.

According to Kristel Stephens, chief executive officer for the Michael Redd Foundation, the foundation holds several events throughout the summer months, free of charge, to promote their cause.

“The message is get connected and stay connected,” said Stephens.

Redd uses the events as a way to bring people together of different races, ethnicities, cultures, classes and denominations.

“His idea is to bring them all together to get to know one another,” said Stephens.

She explained Redd’s ideas of “racial reconciliation” and “one body of people” can be best achieved if you work with children at a young age.

“If you bring them together young, that’s what they know, they have been socialized. It’s a way to equip youth to succeed in life,” she said.

The foundation also aims to help children set attainable goals.

“The stats for a young man to get into the NBA are not good,” said Stephens. “It’s okay for them to want something like that, but Michael teaches them to be realistic, too. They have to make sure their families are taken care of.”

Most of these events are funded completely by Redd, although he does have sponsors. According to the Web site, the foundation is partnered with Destiny Youth Plaza and the Buckeye Boys Ranch in Grove City.

“One thing I love about Michael and his wife is that they don’t care about the money.

They’ll give if they need to,” said Stephens.

The grand finale of these summer events is the Now or Never event, a free, two-day event held at the Promo West Pavilion, 405 Neil Ave.

Now or Never ‘07 begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 and continue throughout the day Sept. 22.

Friday’s big event is a Slam Dunk contest and a 2-Ball contest. These contests are free to enter but do require registration and will be judged by eight to 10 NBA players, including Redd. The names of the judges are not being released, although Stephens says commitments have been secured by eight players.

On Saturday, a free tournament will begin at 9 a.m. Once again, registration is free. Players are eligible to win various prizes, such as a Sony PS3 and a X-Box.

While the boys are busy at the tournament, girls not playing ball are invited to a “female only” fashion show, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

This session will help teach girls proper fashion techniques, and there will be skin care, make-up and clothing vendors onsite. Concluding this session is an extreme makeover competition.

At 11 a.m., a Real Talk Live session, featuring questions and answers with special NBA guests, will take place. For this event, Redd, along with the remaining judges from Friday night, will answer questions about life and everyday struggles. Participants will be able to sign up for various discussion topics.

At 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, there will be Jam Sessions, where both local and national artists will be performing.

Finally, a VIP reception will be held at the end of Saturday’s festivities for winners of all events. Trophies and prizes will be awarded.

Food and entertainment will be provided during both days of the event.

To register for any event or to get involved with the Michael Redd Foundation, log on to www.mredd22.com.

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