Shoot Basketballs NOT People
Garry Mills’ Three-Pointer
Moving Philadelphia youth from painful to productive lives
In 2009 Garry Mills, a resident of West Oak Lane, was upset that several of his friends had died, victims of gun violence. To Garry, one death was one too many. “No More” became his deeply felt and spoken mantra. No more children being shot by one another. NO MORE funerals for young people murdered in their prime. NO MORE losing the contributions and aspirations of young people to an early grave. NO MORE!
Garry felt a change had to be made; there had to be a positive response.
Strong Family Foundations. The Discipline of Basketball
Born and raised in the West Oak Lane area of Philadelphia, Garry’s parents and grandparents were goal oriented, creative, and driven by a strong work ethic that was passed on to Garry and his brother Marlon. His family’s values were grounded in honor, faith, setting goals, and achieving them. Garry’s basketball career began at Lincoln High School where he was a shooting guard. The West Oak Lane Head Coach, Eric Mundy, changed Garry’s outlook on life and the game of basketball. Coach Mundy instilled and installed the values of hard work, long practice hours, training, teamwork, and consistent behavior and brotherhood on and off the court. These values learned through the game of basketball influenced and supported all that Garry does in his life.
A Positive Response
In response to the violence Garry saw on the street, he created something no one had done before in Philadelphia. Garry hosted a basketball game dedicated to non-violence at the Wister neighborhood playground.More than 500 people turned out. The enthusiastic response of the community helped Garry realize that basketball could change and save lives. He wanted the game to do more, however. His goal became to instill in urban youth the ability to dream and set goals in their young lives.
Shoot Basketballs NOT People: A Big Idea that Keeps Getting Bigger
Garry is determined that young black men have the God-given right to become old black men; fathers, husbands, uncles, and grandparents. His experience with the sport of basketball and the mentoring that he received through being part of a team, along with seeing far too many of his contemporaries ending up in prison or dead, inspired him to establish Shoot Basketballs NOT People (SBNP).
Its mission is simple. “Shoot Basketballs NOT People uses basketball as the vehicle to save and change the lives of youth.” It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization helps all youths who struggle with the peer pressure to pursue destructive behavior as a way of life. SBNP yearns to decrease violence that inhibits our youth of their childhood and perpetuates a cycle in which too many of today’s victims become tomorrow’s criminals.
SBNP includes basketball skills training workshops and a basketball league. It teaches the importance of teamwork and sportsmanlike conduct on and off the court. It also educates youth on positive health, nutrition, and life skills. Its future plan of action calls for MORE SBNP Skills Clinics; MORE SBNP Summer Camps; MORE SBNP Leagues; and MORE SBNP Tournaments.
Garry believes he has built a solid foundation that can now seek partners and supporter from professional sports, athletes, the NBA, the NCAA, foundations, and anyone who wants to join him in his calling. Gary states his goal simply and powerfully, “I am committed to providing a safe and fun environment for youth to learn basketball and to develop positive health and life skills. My goal, with enough support, is to expand this program in Philadelphia and other cities around the country. So many young boys and girls need the lifeline we can offer. We know it works. It’s time to grow its reach now.”
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