Lance Thomas joins Mayor Landrieu to Launch Midnight Basketball Season 4
By: Kyle Bass, Pelicans.com
“Whatever your dream is, waking up and realizing you’ve accomplished that dream is the greatest feeling in the world.” – New Orleans Pelicans Forward Lance Thomas
This was the message delivered to the young men in attendance at NOLA FOR LIFE’s Midnight Basketball on Saturday, June 8. The former Duke product joined New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and PlayNola at the Joe W. Brown Recreation Center to celebrate another successful season of Midnight Basketball, which is beginning its fourth season, as an integral part of Mayor Landrieu’s NOLA FOR LIFE initiative.
NOLA FOR LIFE, developed in May 2012, is Mayor Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy to tackle New Orleans’ historically-high murder rate. Midnight Basketball, free and open to males over the age of 16, focuses on providing safe recreational opportunities in crime hot spots for young men through the game of basketball while also providing mentorship and educational support.
Mayor Landrieu, along with Thomas and PlayNola, presented awards to the winners of Season 3 tournaments and competitions on Saturday. Last season’s winning team was awarded a $1,000 check, while the winner of the three-point shootout competition received a flat screen television donated by Café Reconcile. Afterward, Thomas took a few minutes to speak with the young men in attendance.
“This program helps the inner city kids of New Orleans get away from violence and drugs and gives them an opportunity to do something that they love,” said Thomas. “I just want them to know, just because they grew up in a rough area and there are obstacles in life, there are ways to reach your goals. You can accomplish your goals, but you have to have a plan to do it, and you have to stick to that plan.”
Mayor Landrieu spoke on the impact of Midnight Basketball reducing crime in the city, and recognized the importance of role models like Thomas for the people in the program.
“From the beginning, the Pelicans have really just been unbelievable. The number one priority of this city is to reduce violence and make the street safe for our kids. To have NBA players explain to kids the importance of hard work, self-discipline and focus and how they can overcome obstacles through making better decisions and using sports as a method for doing that is just really great to have. It’s wonderful to have Lance and other players out from time to time, and it helps the kids see what the possibilities are for their future.”