It’s one of the busiest times of the year for basketball in and around New York. Just ask Haron Hargrave who returns with another star-studded Ballin’ 4 Peace charity basketball game, where spreading peace through sports remains the heart and soul of the annual event series.
Last year, the courts at the Elmcor Community Center in Queens were packed thanks to a memorable youth basketball game, Dunk Contest, 3-point shootout, and charity game . This year, Brooklyn is the habitat. What hasn’t changed, however, is how Ballin’ 4 Peace has blossomed as a go-to organization and event where giving back and raising awareness about violence remains the focus.
Join NBA players Kenneth Faried (Houston Rockets), Scott Machado (Los Angeles Lakers), Walter Lemon, Jr. (Chicago Bulls), NBA alumni members Smush Parker, Erick Barkley, Chris Smith, and former WNBA stars Cappie Pondexter and Dawn Raven, as they hit the floor and help headline the 5th Annual Ballin 4 Peace Celebrity Charity Basketball Game on Saturday, June 1 (3:30 - 9:00 p.m.) at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York.
Founded by Queens, New York native and former Sacramento State basketball and pro guard, Haron Hargrave, Ballin’ 4 Peace (B4P) is committed to raising awareness as related to acts of violence within NYC and beyond. B4P delivers an outlet to inner-city youth where they can interface with their favorite celebrities as they promote peace through sports.
“When Ballin’ 4 Peace launched in 2015, my goal was to spread peace through sports in hopes of giving back to our communities. Now as we get ready to tip-off this annual event on Saturday at St. Francis College, I am both thankful and humbled by the group of basketball players and our sponsors (PEAK, Wooter Apparel, Deuce Brand, KMart, Sears, Essentia Water, Silky Socks, Lifecamp Inc., and others) who are joining me in this Ballin’ 4 Peace mission,” said Hargrave, who played professional basketball in professionally from the CBA, to Romania, Hungary, China, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Mexico.
Back in 2008, a tragic incident changed Haron forever. While he was studying and playing basketball at Sacramento State, gun violence claimed the life of one of his close childhood friends back home in Queens. That life moment and negative situation led Haron to think beyond himself and return with a plan to create a positive change. From that seed came Ballin’ 4 Peace.
Along with Hargrave and current and former NBA and WNBA stars, the event and game will feature pro athletes like Derrick Jones (New York Jets), Jasmine Nwajei (former Wagner/Syracuse standout), Maxwell Pearce (Harlem Globetrotters), Naya Rose (Beauties Basketball League), Mike Kaufman (Better Bounce/Overtime), Devon Curry and Space Jam (Harlem Wizards), Hot Sauce and White Iverson among others, entertainers and hip-hop artists ranging from the legendary Mr. Cheeks from the Lost Boyz, Loaded Lux, Neek Bucks, Jennaske - Big She The Rapper, and a host of local radio/media personalities, social media influencers, and much more. The 5th Annual Ballin’ 4 Peace event at St. Francis College will include an H20 Basketball Youth Game beginning at 4:30 p.m., Slam Dunk Contest (5:30 p.m.), 3-Point Shootout (6:00 p.m.), and Celebrity Charity Basketball Game (6:30 p.m.).
Prior to the event getting underway on Saturday, Haron Hargrave took time to look back on growing Ballin’ 4 Peace, working with an impressive list of basketball players to help give back to his community, and how Haron was deeply impacted by the recent loss of Nipsey Hussle…
Can you believe the 5th Annual Ballin 4 Peace celebrity and charity game is here again? What are you most proud of from holding the event last year in Queens and over these last five years of Ballin 4 Peace?
One of the most things that I’m proud of from last year‘s event was the great turn out and support from the local community and people even on the West Coast in Los Angeles and Sacramento. We had some of the top influencers and celebrities in the world, including Marquis Trill who flew in on a private jet to come play in that Ballin 4 Peace event. It was amazing. The atmosphere was energetic and I also got to honor one of my favorite mentors and local basketball coaches Charles Coleman (who launched B.A.C.E. Basketball) that was probably the highlight of my night. It was also memorable because our guy White Iverson got engaged after the game and my Ballin’4 Peace team surprised me with a birthday cake for my birthday. It was unforgettable from start to finish.
That roster featured guys like Tristan Jass, Filayyyy, and Maxwell Pearce from the Harlem Globetrotters among others. What does it mean to have guys come out to participate in the day with the youth game, dunk contest, 3-point shootout and also put on a show?
Any time you put on a community and charity game and event like this, it’s the people and players who really support and drive the overall message about the game and events of the day. It’s an honor to have these people come out and donate there time and energy to my charity basketball game. It’s also a refreshing for these players to engage with our local communities and be seen in a different light.
The event and game this year at St. Francis College on June 1 is shaping up to be must-see too. Current NBA guard Scott Machado of the Los Angeles Lakers helps headline the game, along with Kenneth Faried (Houston Rockets), Walter Lemon, Jr. (Chicago Bulls), former NBA guards Smush Parker, Erick Barkley, and Chris Smith), and also former WNBA champ and Finals MVP, Cappie Pondexter. What can people expect to see once the ball goes up?
We have a ton of new fresh faces I always like to bring new people to Ballin’ 4 Peace. It came down to spending the last year preparing for this event, and getting the roster combinations down, and bringing it all together for an extremely good cause. The fact that a Ballin’ 4 Peace event like this can garnish NBA, WNBA, NBA alumni members, and former college standouts says a lot not only about them, but also about what B4P provides as a platform and organization to help give back in our communities.
You're once again collaborating with Wooter Apparel on the Ballin 4 Peace customized jerseys and uniforms. Walk people through what that process is like being able to design and create your own look and feel thanks to Wooter? What and/or who helped influence the jerseys for this Ballin 4 Peace game?
The uniform process is really special to be a part of. This year‘s uniform for “Year 5” I feel like is the best design we’ve come up with yet. I give all credit to my graphic designer website designer, logo designer and friend Thomas Teel for coming up with our new logo and our fresh uniforms. We talk about ideas that we like and want and he puts it out there for the world to see. It’s a smooth transition working with Wooter because its very easy, convenient, and I am proud that Wooter can make it all come together. They’ve been the perfect partner for our jerseys and uniforms and have been a part of Ballin’ 4 Peace for the past three years.
You've also team-up with Wooter Apparel to launch your own apparel line, Respect The Shooter. What has that collaboration been like and what does it mean to you to have your own clothing line?
The collaboration has been such a blessing. It’s been really cool to have my own apparel line through Wooter, my kids love the gear and also I love the gear that’ve designed and created. I feel that I have had a wonderful impact on Wooter since we started working together and vice versa. It’s truly been an honor to have my own apparel line and I can’t think them enough. I am excited to continue this relationship with Wooter as we grow together.
We recently lost hip-hop artist, community advocate, and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle. For someone like you who values community, giving back, and hip-hop music (in addition to what you do on the court), how did Nipsey help influence you and your approach to either business, entrepreneurship, or appreciation for the music?
Nipsey Hussle was definitely a legendary person and artist. I’m going to keep praying for his family. I didn’t tell many people this but, Nipsey Hussle was someone I kept an eye on and looked at what he was doing and to see how he was moving. He always had something new going on and I kind of feel that we were passionate about the same things it’s just that he was on the West Coast I was on the East Coast — community outreach, building up each other, giving back, and living for something much bigger. And it doesn’t hurt that he could really rap and was really good at it. People knew him from his rapping and a lot of people knew him for his community work as well. I feel like we are one and the same…his marathon continues through me .
If people know anything about you, it's that you keep it moving...what projects, travel plans, and other Ballin’ 4 Peace events to you have coming up after the charity basketball game on Saturday at St. Francis?
After the Ballin’ 4 Peace charity basketball game we will be featured at the Queens Youth Music Festival on July 21 at Citi Field! Also, after that we will do the celebrity flag football game the back to School Supply Drive in Aug in Brooklyn Bridge pier Park stay tune for the exact date but continue to follow a Ballin ‘4 Peace 🏽 and follow me Haron Hargrave on all social media platforms I look forward to seeing you guys June 1st.