Basketball program overcomes neighborhood feuds to win as team, needs funds for Vegas trip

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An incredible thing continues to happen in the Bay Area Magic AAU youth basketball program.

Although many of the summer organization’s 30 young players come from neighborhoods in Richmond and North Richmond that are often at war with one another, their improbable unity on the basketball court for a common goal — to hone their skills and win games — has led to an impressive record and an invitation to the prestigious Bigfoot Hoops Las Vegas Classic from July 22-26.

Yet the kids’ struggles continue.

Despite the Vegas invitation, the Magic, a group ages 13 to 16 that practices at Kennedy High, lacks the needed funds to send its deserving players on the trip.

Barry Dugar of TRUPP (The Remember Us People Project), a nonprofit that supports re-entry efforts for previously incarcerated residents, is working with other partners to raise the funds for the program.

Bake sales and other fundraising efforts secured $595 to pay for the tournament entrance fee, but at least $2,500 more is needed for hotel stay and rental vans, Dugar said.

If there is any program more deserving, it is the Bay Area Magic, which was founded in 1994 by Rae Jackson Jr., Dugar said. While kids joining the program don’t always get along at first, working out together as a team quickly changes the relationships, he said.

“At first, there was some tension, but over time the kids become great friends,” Dugar said. “The old lines that divide them go away in our program.”

For those who want to contribute to the team’s trip, donations go through Prisoner Reentry Network, a certified 501c3 that supports TRUPP and Bay Area Magic.

Checks are payable to “Prisoner Reentry Network” and can be mailed to:

TRUPP (attention Barry Dugar)

155 South 41st Street

Richmond, CA 94804

Or, make a quick and easy payment online here.

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