Official Website of The Game and Roley Boyz!
One gains a lot from being part of a team. Individual growth, self confidence, respect for others,
communication skills and great friendships are all learned and can benefit a person throughout
their life. Along with these qualities, being involved with a team or sport reduces the risk of a
teen to be out on the streets. This is exactly what the Drew league stands for and was created to
do. Established in 1973 by Alvin Willis, the league was created because Willis believed that in
order to bring peace to the streets of South Central LA, the youth needed to build relationships
with each other instead of against each other. His goal was to use basketball as the bond these
kids have and 39 years later, his organization still stands strong. The league started off with just
six teams, then grew to ten teams when Dino Smiley became league director, and now there are
20 teams. Two of the 20 teams belong to Grammy award nominated rapper The Game, who said
in our interview that his first love was basketball.
The Drew League offers a court where everything is left behind except the art of skill. From
professional players such as Nike Young, Baron Davis, Paul Pierce, Gabe Pruitt, Javale McGhee,
Matt Barnes, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Dijon Thompson, Lebron James, Steve Blake to west
coast blacktop street ballers and even artists such as Chris Brown. The mission set by these
athletes is that the glory of basketball does not lie in fame and fortune but in the power of
teamwork. As a non-profit organization, the league offers a community divided by the
vulnerabilities of violence and poverty the motivation to have a positive outlook on improving
lives in and around Compton.
Looking at the game on June 10th against two teams: Money Gang and Top Prospects, one can
see the crowd interested in the way in which each player brings their experience to the court. On
Money Gang, which is led by “The Game” #5, his technique of dominance and defense is
demonstrated through his time spent playing as a street baller. For Top Prospects, Dijon
Thompson #12 is telling a different story. Thompson’s strategic offensive playing comes from
his NBA and Euroleague career after making his mark at Redondo Union High School and the
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). This is what the Drew League provides that
many cannot: erasing the line between professionals and street ball.
I had the chance to interview The Game shortly after his team, “Money Gang” had won their
game that day. In my interview with him, I wanted to learn what motivated him to play for the
Drew league and learned that it is the fact that he can bring a courtside seat to Compton. “My
purpose (to play) is to give back to the hood and bring NBA players to this side of LA that they
wouldn’t normally visit. A lot of kids here don’t get to see these guys except on TV, so to see
them up close and personal is cool and, you know, I’m just glad that I can be somebody to do
In just his two years with the league he has seen improvements such as an upgraded facility- they
used to play at Washington Park which was much smaller and now it is at the Charles Drew
Junior High school in Compton which has a bigger gym and holds a higher capacity. Celebrities
like The Game are great role models to have because for someone with an aggressive past, he
shows that he can control himself. He told me that he was never invited before due to his aggressive
past, “… I had a bad attitude on the court, I was known for fighting… Dino Smiley told me if I
could control my temper, he’d let me have a team and this year I got two teams, so we good”.
He’s a great example to show the youth that you can’t have fun while being violent.
The youth are also motivated to stay out of the street because these celebrities that are coming
back to their city is proof to them that if they stay out of the streets and work hard towards their
dream, they can have a life bigger than what they could have ever imagined or what society has
set for them.
Every week the games are packed and there are usually crowds waiting outside the door to enter
and watch the 2:00 Money Gang game. The Game surprises fans every week with a new
celebrity and I myself had trouble getting in today because the gym had reached it’s full capacity.
The Game jokingly ended the conversation with, “You could let Ron know that even when he
wasn’t here, we still packed up the gym…so you could let him know that it wasn’t him (that they
came for), it was me!”
To learn more information about the Drew League or to make a donation to the Foundation,
check out their website: http://www.drewleague.com/index.html
Admission is free and open to the public on a first come basis.
By Jessica Badawi and Angela Koussian | Full credits and Article from www.RonArtest.com