Approximately 57 youth from five YouthSource Centers run by EWDD partners Brotherhood Crusade, CRCD, Para Los Niños and the Boyle Heights Technology YSC and the Youth Opportunity Movement Watts YSC had the chance to play basketball as part of “A Conversation with Metta World Peace”
Against a mural of hands reaching up towards a basketball, approximately 57 youth from five of the City’s YouthSource Centers recently learned the basics of the game from former LA Laker Metta World Peace, and how establishing a solid foundation in sports can help youth mentally prepare for decisions in day-to-day life.

“Basketball is very similar to life,” Metta said. “The things you do today, that’s how you’re going to play. If you’re not preparing, if you don’t have the fundamentals, it’s going to affect your game.”

Metta was the second guest in EWDD’s “A Conversation With…” series, an event launched by outgoing EWDD Youth Operations Director Brenda Anderson to give the City’s YouthSource participants an opportunity to interact with influencers who faced similar challenges and overcame obstacles to build successful careers.
YouthSource kids run basketball drills with former LA Laker Metta World Peace and a group of his coaches
YouthSource participants run basketball drills with former LA Laker Metta World Peace and a group of his coaches

“Your environment and your situation does not define who you are,” Brenda said to the youth audience. “You define who you are. Let today be the beginning of your future. I want you to listen to those who are speaking today, especially Metta. He was where you are, and look where he is now.”

Held August 30, 2018 at the Expo Center, the event launched with an opportunity for youth to run basketball drills with Metta and a group of his coaches. Metta then shared details about growing up in the Queensbridge projects in Queens, New York, his basketball career, including being part of the winning 2010 LA Lakers NBA championship team. He also talked about his current entrepreneurial efforts such as “The Panda’s Friend” clothing line.

Afterward, Metta fielded questions from youth ranging from “Who is your favorite rapper?” (Eminem) to how do you overcome trust issues? Metta encouraged the youth to learn how to be good parents, think before acting and seize opportunities.

“Don’t be afraid to do things that seem impossible,” Metta said. “Just ask for help and try to reach those goals.”

Metta was the second guest in EWDD’s “A Conversation With…” series. The event also marked Brenda Anderson’s last day with the City after a 16-year career. Brenda may have retired, but EWDD staff will continue her legacy project. Upcoming discussion topics will include foster care, LGBTQ issues and homelessness.

The YouthSource series’ inaugural guest was Danny Trejo on July 24, 2018.

Learn more about the many programs and benefits offered through EWDD Youth Services and their YouthSource Centers.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of September 3, 2018. Read this issue and more.