Sparks Partner with L.A. Mayors Office for a Family Clinic

In an effort to continue building a stronger Los Angeles community, the Sparks teamed up with the LA Mayor's Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development to hold a family basketball clinic on Wednesday, August 12th. Sparks Head Coach Michael Cooper and DeLisha Milton-Jones and Betty Lennox were on hand to teach skills and drills to over 100 participants.

More important than just teaching skills and basketball fundamentals was the potential impact the players could have in the lives of these children. Most of the participants come from single-parent households and have never traveled outside of their own community. While the parents thought it was a fantastic opportunity for their children to learn basketball from some of the best, they thought the messaging was the critical to the success of the clinic.

“It was a beautiful experience. I thought the message from the players was very inspirational,” said Dongela Patton, a participating parent from Dorsey. “My daughter is a senior and hearing what they have to say makes me happy that she is involved in basketball.”

The clinic started off with introductions and all of the participants being given Sparks t-shirts to participate in. After explaining what was going to happen during the clinic and going through a stretching routine, Coach Cooper immediately began with drills followed by defensive work. He used DeLisha and Betty as demonstrators and each of the participants were able to actively try all of the drills. In watching the clinic, it would seem that Coach Cooper was running a Sparks practice. Pushing the girls to give their all and having them do push-ups if they missed a step.

“It was hard-work and I thought it was a good experience. I would love to do it again,” said TaKaiya Cass, a student at Dorsey High School.

The clinic that took place at the Imperial Courts was part of a partnership with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. The youth that live in this area are at an extremely high risk of being exposed to gang violence from a young age.

“This event was much needed in this community,” said Jeronne Island from the Imperial Courts. “Anything that can be done to inspire and motivate these kids is a necessity.”

The Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development was created to carry-out the mission to combat the City's gang epidemic. To show his support in building a safer Los Angeles community for local at-risk youth, Mayor Villaraigosa was also on hand to meet the participants and their families and make it known that they can be part of the success stories of coming out of a tough environment.

One such youth was Shaketha Ashley who grew up in the same area and went on to attend and graduate from college. Stories like Shaketha’s are the reason that the Sparks partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development are put in place.

The Sparks commitment to the community doesn’t stop there. We will continue to work to build a stronger and safer Los Angeles community for everyone. We will also partner on another clinic with the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development on Saturday, August 29th.