This Basketball Institution Has A Special Place In The Life Of Its Community



June 5, 2017 — The Drew is about more than just basketball. It’s about community, perseverance, honor and belonging.

It goes beyond its initial purpose — giving the youths of a tough area a place to go, allowing them to choose sports rather than a less healthy life-style. But it grew to something bigger.

Something special.

People who love basketball know about The Drew.

The Drew is a competitive basketball league that meets at Charles Drew Junior High School in South Central Los Angeles. It started in 1973, when South Central was rife with gangs, poverty and crime. Opportunities for young men living there seemed insignificant.

In response, a young man named Alvin Willis started the league which would come to be known as The Drew

Its motto was “No excuse, just produce.”

The Drew League was about more than basketball, however; it was a place to escape the negative influences that were around every corner. It became a refuge, a neutral area where gang hostilities and turf wars had no place. Violence was not supposed to enter the gym. The Drew became a refuge that many young men seeking a break from the streets sought out.

The Drew was well-known, but not well-funded. In 2010, Dino Smiley, who took on the job of running the League after Willis retired, was forced to consider shutting the League down. And it would probably have closed if a small miracle hadn’t happened.

The NBA went through a lockout, and suddenly the best players in the country were looking for a place to play, to stay ready for the day the lock-out ended. Many of them knew the Drew — in fact, a number had learned to play there, including Byron Scott, Baron Davis and James Harden.

Suddenly Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and other top players were playing at the Drew, giving it the national attention it deserved.

The Drew remains a vital and important institution in South Central. The personal skills that The Drew teaches are universal and significant: patience, loyalty, family, teamwork, responsibility, basketball and community.

The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce documents the story of a Los Angeles institution.

The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce is available on DVD, Blu-ray or you can stream it immediately on Amazon Video.


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