Culture

Team First For Retired Professional (Europe/NBA) Basketball Player Ty Grant

 By | Samantha Bergeson
Tyrone Grant: Brooklyn-born professional basketball player Tyrone Grant remembers his roots. After ten years as  forward for both Charlotte Hornets and a variety of European teams in Italy, Greece, and Spain, Grant returned to his hometown in 2010 with his community in mind. For fun, Grant would play pick-up basketball games with kids at the school across the street from his home, but the children would have to end early to return to their homework. From this, Grant had an idea–and in 2011, with the support from the school’s principal, Team First was born.




Team First provides a service for at-risk youth through school academic programs as well as community events. “Team First initially started as a hobby,” Grant said.
Yet it quickly became far more than that– the program has contracts with the city’s Department of Education and Department of Community and Youth Development, as well as sub-contracts with mental health agencies throughout New York. “We touch every aspect of youth services,” Grant said. Events such as their annual basketball youth tournament are
hosted at the Barclays Center, with a variety of former NBA players as coaches and mentors for their college career seminars as well.
Team First focuses on children ages six to 18 through building a bridge between education and athletics. The non-profit also employs young local alums to act as mentors, serving as inspiration for current students. So far, the organization has reached over 3,000 children.




Grant credits his high school basketball coach for his realization of the importance of education. Schoolwork coupled with basketball led Grant to his prominent role on the St. John’s University Elite Eight ’99 basketball team, and later granted him the opportunity for a long professional career. Grant channeled this impactful leadership role into Team First, and acknowledges the influence Team First could have on inner-city youth. The goals of Team First, as listed on their website, include: improving the graduation rate in public schools; educating students on the value of sportsmanship; and preparing children for a productive post-sports life.
Grant himself has personally kept in contact with alums from the founding of Team First six years ago. “I know four [alums] who are actually attending college right now,” Grant proudly said.
Team First is rapidly expanding to reach New York City kids throughout various boroughs as well as expansion into Atlanta.  And we’ll see the impact on and off the court. But for Grant, this is all part of retirement.
For more information on Team First visit www.teamfirst.com

 

 

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