'Hoops for Hope' brings NBA players to Richmond jail

'Hoops for Hope' brings NBA players to Richmond jail

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond Sheriff's Office is teaming up with the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office to break a tragic cycle of young boys, largely African American, following in their jailed father's footsteps.

They are launching "Hoops for Hope." It's a first of it's kind program aimed at allowing inmates to build lasting relationships with their sons.

This is in partnership with the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office and sponsored by Haley Buick GMC and the Richmond Family and Fatherhood Initiative.

The sheriff's office says selected fathers have participated in over 20 curriculum hours which focuses on Fatherhood/Manhood training.

Mentors include:

  • Retired NBA Player Ben Wallace (Former NBA defensive player of the year)
  • Ed Davis – Benedictine High School Alumni (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • Darius Theus – Current European League Player (VCU alum, member of VCU Final Four team)
  • Mo Alie-Cox and Torey Burston – VCU Players

Inmates are learning the 123s of good parenting as they prepare for one-on-one time with their sons.

"I'm kind of anxious," said 31-year-old Albert Harvey. "I've got jitters because he's a good boy, and I miss him."

Harvey will have the help of some pretty big names. Retired NBA Player Ben Wallace, current NBA player Ed Davis, and VCU standout Mo Alie-Cox will serve as mentors in what is being called the "Hoops for Hope" program, a priceless opportunity.

"Pass him the ball. Show him how to dribble the balls. It's things that I wish I could have done when I was free with him that I'm getting a chance to do right now," said Harvey.

They've even got the attire lined up for the fathers and sons, but this is more than just a basketball game. They've spent time in 21 different classes learning how to be good fathers to their sons.

"It doesn't cost the city one dime," said Sheriff C.T. Woody. "They are here. They are professionals. They know what they are doing. They do a great job."

Volunteers from the Richmond Family & Fatherhood Initiative conduct the classes because they say young males are 87 percent more likely to go jail if their father is in jail.

"You can't arrest the problem away," said Woody. "You can educate. You can communicate. You can teach family values. You can change their way of thinking."

"Never has anything been offered like this before to inmates," said Harvey. "To be able to spend time with your sons just days after Father's Day. That's a blessing in itself."

A blessing Harvey doesn't take for granted. He knows exactly what he'll say to his 10-year-old son.

"I just want him to know that with all the mistakes I made, he wasn't one of them. I miss him. I love him, and I'm going to try to my best to get it right so I can be a father for him."

The sheriff says the sons also have a voluntary opportunity to take classes with RFFI called the Boyhood to Manhood Rites of Passage Program.  This program parallels the courses their fathers have taken, and focuses on prevention and intervention.

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