Jr. Magic Spotlight - JaJa Richards

Each month we will spotlight a different Jr. Magic partner so you can learn about the leagues in our community. Our first spotlight focuses on All Stars Are Bright and its founder, JaJa Richards.

When and where did you begin playing the game of basketball?

My first memories of playing were when I was about 7 years old. I remember playing on the streets with a milk crate nailed to the telephone pole. However, I grew from 5’8” to 6’9” during my awkward high school years. My junior year of high school, the basketball coach —Coach Charles Hankerson, literally grabbed me on the first day of school and said “YOU ARE GOING TO PLAY BASKETBALL” Therefore, 11th grade was my first organized game of basketball with referees and uniforms and the smell of popcorn from the concession.

What inspired you to form All Stars Are Bright?

The day Coach Hankerson grabbed my arm changed my life. I was a delinquent, bored with school, with excessive absences, practically a dropout and had failed most of my classes the year before. However, because of him, I got a scholarship to college and ended up playing division 1 basketball and got an excellent education at Loyola University Chicago where I met my wife. The values Coach Hankerson instilled in me of hard work and determination, took my game to the next level and was able to play professionally for 14 years and travel to over 30 countries. All that time of traveling and playing, I knew that my life had a bigger purpose and I had to do something with my blessing. I formed All Stars Are Bright as a way to help youth shine to their maximum potential. We all have that potential to be better than we are. My high school coach saw it in me and now I want to do the same for others.

Where is your program located?

Our Jr Magic Program is located in Kissimmee, Florida.

When did you first become a Jr. Magic Partner?

I first met Orlando Magic representative, Mr. Victor Rivera in 2015 and shared with him my vision. We started our first Jr. Magic League in early 2016.

How many kids participate in your Jr. Magic program throughout the year?

We have four (4) Jr. Magic Seasons throughout the year. We average about 250 participants per season. We have tried to create a family atmosphere in the program so most participants are dedicated families that stay with us from season to season.

What is your favorite memory from All Stars Are Bright?

There are so many memories I could go all day. However, for me personally it is truly the smiles. Just seeing kids happy. Knowing that we have brought some joy to their life.

Who is your favorite Magic basketball player of all time?

That is hard. Can I give a top three? As a big man myself, I would say Shaq followed by Dwight Howard. However, T-Mac here in his prime was one of the best scorers EVER!

Any fun facts about yourself or ASAB that you would like to mention?

Many do not know my name JaJa means God’s Gift. I think growing up with this name; this idea that I was a gift inspired me to want to be a gift and a blessing to society. I want All Stars Are Bright to be that blessing. To be that organization to allow youth to shine to their full potential. We are a youth sports organization but education is a top priority. We want our youth to shine in the classroom and on the court. Mentoring and tutoring are key components of our program.

Anything else you would like to add?

I want to give a BIG shootout to our coaches and volunteers. They are the most important part of our organization. Without them everything that we do would not be possible. They are the true ALL STARS! I must also mention that without the support of my wife, my partner for life, Hashi, All Stars Are Bright would not be possible. We are a true family organization. She has been by my side supporting the vison every step of the way from day one and I am blessed to have her.