LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A youth basketball league in Lexington is changing lives one kid at a time.
The Charlotte Court basketball organization is no stranger to many in the city. Over the years, it's become proof that one person can change someone's life.
Nimbo Hammons founded Charlotte Court Inc. in 1999.
"I had people helping me, so what I did was my only goal in life was to pay it back," said Hammons. "But you can't really pay what some people give you with money, so I gave time."
Twenty-three years and counting, Hammons built a team. They've been coaching and mentoring youth in Lexington through basketball.
"You gotta keep them occupied. You gotta put something on their mind," said Hammons.
Hammons says it all started on Georgetown street where he and his family lived in the Charlotte Court Housing projects. He and a group of his friends went to college, but eventually, they came back and played at this park in the Lexington Dirt Bowl. Because they all grew up in the same projects, that's what they named their team.
"As we started getting older and the young guys start coming in, I just turned it into a non-profit and started working with the kids in the neighborhood," said Hammons.
His mission has been to enhance the mind, body, and soul of Lexington's youth. He wanted to provide an avenue to help children make a better life for themselves, similar to what others had so graciously done for him. He's been willing to take on anyone, no matter how difficult it may be.
"That's who I go for the kids who are kinda in between the cracks that could go either way," said Hammons.
What he and his team of coaches have been doing is working. Out of 95 alumni, 88 have gone on to college, while 76 played ball in college.
"When they come to us, we are trying to prepare them for the next step whatever step that may be," said Hammons.
Preparing them for the next step includes academic help as well.
Many of the kids he's helped over the years are now men who say Nimbo really was the difference in their lives.
"I been knowing Nimbo since I was in sixth grade. I started with him when I was in middle school and I always tell people this-without Nimbo and a few other guys, I probably wouldn't be in the place I am today," said Leander Ridgeway Jr., former basketball player at Asbury University.
Others say he served as a father figure.
"I definitely needed it because I didn't have nobody in my family that played. He went to the next level, so he knew what it takes to get there so why not follow what he's saying," said Ridgeway Jr.
For Nimbo, the best part is seeing the impact and his former players thrive in life after the league.
"Because it could be another story. We could be reading about them in jail or dead the way things are going. But to see them still doing something they love and something we helped them learn over the years, it's just beautiful," said Nimbo.
Charlotte Court is run in partnership with the city of Lexington Parks and Rec at the Dunbar Community Center.
This weekend is the final four for the tournament championship.