Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning makes it his mission to give to Overtown community

 

jfeldman@MiamiHerald.com

Pasted to the back wall of the auditorium in the Overtown Youth Center, which is nestled between Interstate 95 and the Dolphin Expressway, a sun orange piece of construction paper holds a picture of Alonzo Mourning.

Mourning, a co-founder of the center, is wearing white sneakers and shorts, looking down at the camera with a smile. Alongside the picture is a quote from the seven-time All-Star.

“The Bible says, ‘To whom much is given, much will be required.’ And I totally believe that.”

On Friday, Mourning sat at the front of the room in dress shoes and a suit,celebrating another special day for him in a summer full of emotional moments.

Not much had been given to children in Overtown, an area with a median household income less than $20,000. In response, Mourning and the OYC provide in-school, after school and summer programming for 400 area kids.

“We are in a community where the odds are totally against these young people,” Mourning said, “But we have overcome those odds.”

One hundred percent of the kids in the program graduate high school, Mourning said, and 90 percent go to college.

On Friday, as the center celebrated its 10th anniversary, Mourning was announcing another partnership that he hopes will help the organization succeed. Just as Mourning credits much of his basketball success to coaches and mentors, he said his philanthropic efforts also require building relationships and getting help from others.

Two days earlier, Mourning welcomed the CEO of an aircraft-services company that was helping to launch a summer curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering, and math at the OYC.

On Friday, Mourning sat alongside Edwin Moses, an Olympic champion and the Chairman of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to use sports as a developmental tool.

Mourning was becoming an ambassador for the organization, and Laureus was pledging its support for the Overtown Youth Center, where athletics play a complementary role to the organization’s mission.

OYC executive director Tina Brown said the two groups had been working on putting together the partnership for six months. Previously, Laureus affiliate Up2Us provided coaches and mentors to the Overtown program.

Later Friday morning, Mourning showed Moses around the facility, grabbing him at one point to show off a new dance room and nearby music studio in between stops in the basketball gym and out on the football field.

“We have a lot of projects,” Moses said, “Not many have this type of infrastructure available to them, that’s the most impressive thing.”

Mourning said it was an exciting day for him, one of many this summer. He played golf with President Barack Obama in March. In April, Mourning was elected to the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame, where he will be inducted in August.

Mourning’s son, Trey, committed to play basketball at Georgetown, his dad’s alma mater, in May.

“It’s a very emotional time,” Mourning said. “The most important thing in life is not individual accomplishments or being inducted into the Hall of Fame, it’s what you do for other people. I can’t put a dollar amount on the things we do with other people.”

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