Mateen Cleaves teaches kids about basketball, life
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Former NBA player Mateen Cleaves is in town for three days to help kids in Benton Harbor. It's his second year holding basketball camps to help kids stay off the streets and find success.
"Our town needs stuff like this really because we have a lot of stuff not going right in our community and we really needed it," said Tyrese Lamar, Benton Harbor High School basketball player.
Cleaves says his One Goal- One Passion camp is about much more than basketball.
"The basketball is the draw. The basketball is to get the kids through the door, and once we get them here we like to hit them with a variety of different things," said Cleaves.
Kids get to work on their basketball skills - and learn life skills and set goals.
"What I want the kids to understand is, I came from the same environment you did, but yet found a way to make it positive," said Cleaves.
Cleaves says he understands the trials and hardships many of the kids face on a daily basis.
"That's why we always give a free basketball camp, because I didn't have the money to pay for one," said Cleaves.
He tells them the key is to stay focused.
"Once you make it out of here and I say once you make it because I tell them it's just a matter of time, I talk to them about college," said Cleaves.
The athletes say this camp has been invaluable. They've learned a lot.
"Not only sport-wise but outside of sports and encourage us to encourage others and ourselves," said Ashant'e Jordan, Benton Harbor High School basketball player.
This is not the only camp.
Cleaves is also sponsoring free camps in Flint and Lansing in hopes of changing and saving lives.