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My Generation

Coach and Father Uses Basketball to Keep Kids Off Streets

His backyard serves as community sports palace

Many top NBA players rise to fame on sheer talent. But too many young athletes don't have the skills to help them rise above the rough neighborhoods they grow up in. Gangs, drugs and other constant temptations can easily overwhelm a child’s ambitions and moral compass.
 
Enter Willie Johnson. In response to the growing distractions he saw in his Detroit neighborhood, Johnson began inviting kids to play hoops in the full-size basketball court he built for his children in his own backyard. Young men and women jump at the chance to play in Johnson's safe, supervised environment away from the violence, but the chance to show off their dribbling and layup skills comes with a price: they have to play by Johnson's rules. No drooping pants. No cursing. And above all, no fighting. Oh, and they’re also required to show their report cards. It’s all part of Johnson’s plan to recast the attitude behind the game.
 
My Generation takes to the court with this local hero who has opened up not only his backyard, but his heart, too.

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