Basketball is so popular at the Miami Springs Community Center that one or more courts are almost always in use. The popularity of the sport has even brought support and sponsorship from the Miami Heat.
A young man who played the game at the old Rec Center and on the Miami Springs Senior High basketball team is bringing in a program to help players and aspiring players hone their skills, along with teaching them the value of academics.
Edward “Eddie” Peña grew up in Hialeah, hung out in Miami Springs and played basketball for four years at MSSH (class of ’95).
“We won about 20 games a year and went to district,” said Peña, who towers at 6 feet 8. “After college I went to a junior college in Alabama and then transferred to University of Alabama in Birmingham, always playing basketball.”
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Peña went on to play basketball in overseas leagues, including the Euro League. His teams included some based in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain and Italy. In 2007 he suffered a broken ankle that required two surgeries and was forced into retirement.
“Now I want to give back to the communities and the kids,” said Peña. “I want to educate them on the game and get some out of the street life.”
Pena hooked up with former NBA player Kenny Anderson to become director of the Kenny Anderson Basketball Institute. A graduate of Georgia Tech, Anderson played for the New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics, Portland Trailblazers and the Charlotte Hornets.
Along with the Community Center staff, Peña and Anderson will be holding an all-pro clinic this Saturday, June 1, from 2-6 p.m. for ages 7-17. Early registration is $45 until a week before the event and then the price is $55. Sign up at the Community Center. For more information on the institute, check out www.KAbasketball.com.
“We’ll be working on fundamentals and improving skills,” said Peña. “We also want to talk to kids about education. Life is not all about basketball.”
Pena said the institute also has tutors available at its Miami location, which has year-round programs.
“We want to build a mentorship with the kids,” said Pena. “Kenny and I could be mentors for a lot of kids. Many don’t have fathers. I hang out with some of the kids on the court or help them with reading and math. I want to be there for them and help keep them fit. Playing video games won’t get them a scholarship.”