In 2015, Marcus Robinson, founder of the Pittsburgh Bullets developmental basketball team, sponsored a charity game against players from the semi-pro Pennsylvania Jaguars football team at the Homewood YMCA to raise funds for the family of his murdered friend, Deion “Meatman” Nesbitt.
The event proved so successful that he repeated it again the next year, and the next. And on Feb. 16, Robinson will bring the fourth annual Stop the Violence Memorial Basketball Game to the Homewood Y, and will memorialize all the murder victims across the city last year.
“As a result of Meatman, I learned that others I was personally involved with over the years had been murdered, friends of mine,” he said. “But it’s evolved into more than a personal statement. It’s bigger than just those cases, though three were solved. It’s about stopping gun violence and about trying to heal,” Robinson told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview, Feb. 12.
In addition to the fundraiser basketball game, this year’s event will feature presentations by guest speakers Wynona Harper, CEO of Jamar’s Place of Peace, “Free” Blackwell, pastor at House of Manna, Shanon Williams, who will speak on gun-violence trauma, and activist Tamara Williams, who lost a son to gun violence.
“Ms. Harper tells it like it is, and Ms. Tamara Williams doesn’t pull any punches, either,” he said. “So I expect to rock the gym Friday night.”
The 7 p.m. event will also feature community vendors, music by DJae Love, a Stop the Violence Dance Off, with a $100 prize to the winners, and an art show with top pieces going on display at the August Wilson Center and a $100 first-place prize. The art is currently on display at the YMCA.
Donations will be accepted at the door for entry to the game.
“I was moved by the spirit to create the art gallery for local kids and adults to create art that reflects everything surrounding gun violence, the trauma and solutions. It’s a way to elaborate on the community, and express how we really feel,” said Robinson. “If we don’t express it, we’ll never get past it. So, this is a platform to explore those emotions and find a path to wellness.”
Robinson said turnout for the previous events has been between 300-350 people. He’s hoping for an increase of maybe 30 percent.
“But if the response is anything like what we’ve had before, I’m hoping to arrange a private screening of the Black Panther at one of the theaters where it’s playing and take a bunch of kids,” he said.
Other partner organizations for this year’s event include the Greater Pittsburgh YMCA, Anderson Design Company, Jamar’s Place of Peace and House of Manna. For more information, contact the Pittsburgh Bullets at 412-345-3130 or visit http://www.pittsburghbullets.org.
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