By Bianca High
ATLANTA — Dozens of hoopers took to the court of Clayton State University’s Athletic Center Saturday March 19 for the first ever Hoop 4 Hope celebrity basketball games.
Former NFL player Dwight Johnson and Streetz 94.5 partnered together to sponsor Hoop 4 Hope. Two teams, Team Total Athlete and Team Bounce Nation, made up of local celebrities and kids came together to raise money for charity to raise awareness for childhood obesity. The event featured many prominent musical figureheads hooping for hope.
There were NFL players such as Derrick Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs, artists such as the OMG Girlz, reality TV stars, rappers, and radio personalities at the event. MiAsia Simone of Streetz 94.5 came out to support the cause after promoting the event all week.
“There’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of people rolling in and I’m glad there was a good turnout.” Simone said.”
Dressed in red and black it was clear to see which team she was there to support, but she reassured that the most important part was to raise money for Dwight Johnson’s charity.
“I’m representing Team Total Athlete, not because of the competition,” Simone said. “But because Dwight Johnson and Derrick Johnson started this event and Team Total Athlete is what they stand for.”
Many local rappers and artists came out to support the event as well. A lot of the fans of rappers and artists are young and the primary goal was to get the message of childhood obesity to them. Hoop 4 Hope tied in influential people from the music industry to further inform and educate people that are the base of their support. Some even played in the basketball game.
Meechie Ro, local hip hop dancer and rapper, shared his enthusiasm for the game during one of his breaks.
“I’m here for Hoop 4 Hope, water for Flint Michigan…it’s a charity event.” Ro said.
Atlanta artist New Breed Nye was also in attendance playing for Team Bounce Nation. Nye was more excited to come out and just have fun more than anything. He said it was really cool to get to play with some of the kids that listened to his music.
“Every player on the team is supposed to have bounce, hence the name Team Bounce Nation.” Nye said.
There was just as much celebrity support in the audience as on the court. Tameka “Tiny” Harris, the wife of Atlanta rapper T.I. was in the crowd cheering on her son King Harris.
“I really enjoyed it, especially watching my son play,” Harris said. “He did really well so I was shocked.”
What is Hoop 4 Hope?
Hoop 4 Hope is a celebrity basketball game started by former NFL player Dwight Johnson and his son Derrick Johnson of the KC Chiefs through their non-profit organization Stay Strong For Life (SS4L).
This year’s teams were based of various celebrities as well as different kids involved in Dwight Johnson’s athletic training facility, Total Athlete. There were no qualifications to play on either team but to come out, have fun, and raise awareness for childhood obesity. Different celebrities from the metro Atlanta area came out both the participate in the charity game and cheer on in the stands.
This year was the first game, but the father and son duo hope to make it an annual event and get more of the community involved.
Fighting Childhood Obesity
The socioeconomic problem of childhood obesity has become a pandemic, worthy of the attention of the Obama administration.
SS4L founder, Dwight Johnson, hopes to enlighten more people and completely decimate the issue of childhood obesity
“We formed this non-profit to help educate people on childhood obesity and how to take care of your body while you’re young so that when you get older your body will take care of itself.” Johnson said.
Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure.Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases
SS4L taking a Stand
SS4L is focused on alleviating child obesity and training and developing young athletes. The organization strives to make sure that children are able to be successful through empowerment and discipline. Children learn many different skills through fitness and athletics such as character development, work ethic and leadership. SS4L provides a platform for children to establish skills necessary to become a positive and effective member of society, regardless of their social class or cultural barriers.
“It’s the mentorship and guidance that really make the difference.” Johnson said
Training with Professional Athletes
Stay Strong For Life (SS4L) is a non-profit organization formed out of Total Athlete for children that can’t afford athletic training to give them the mental and physical skills they need to succeed.
“Total Athlete is a sports complex that trains athletes,” Johnson said. “We train speed, agility, strength and conditioning in football, basketball and baseball.”
The vision for Total Athlete began when Dwight Johnson was providing sports training for family friends. Word got out and in response he opened a training facility for children and adults
Over the course of his career playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, Johnson has developed personal and professional techniques in speed, agility, strength, and conditioning. Now, as owner and CEO of Total Athlete, Johnson is helping youth and adult athletes from across the country to improve their performance through the use of his proven techniques and the aid of some of America’s top athletic trainers.
Johnson mentors and sponsors many youth and often provides employment to mentees and interns of the Total Athlete program. Currently the total Athlete summer camp serves over 60 families providing a world class fitness/sports program to youth.