It’s a special day for me, and I want to explain why.
All of his life, up until he passed away, my father made a point of engaging his community, and encouraging me and my siblings to do the same.
His service went way beyond the civil rights movement, my father was not a one trick pony.
He donated untold sums of money to the inner city, constantly pushed me to get off my ass and help out.
Father loved Sundays, so I have decided to make this announcement today.
Because of his commitment to law and order, dad could never find the time to put it all together, to blend basketball with his social ambitions.
For some reason, I never really entertained the idea of picking up the slack, even though doing so would directly honor his legacy.
As some of you know, I took over a basketball program for at risk youth last August, and watched the population grow from 7 to over 450, watched kids stay out of trouble, get admitted to college, get jobs, evolve into contributing members of my community.
I cheered as our leagues literally sold out the YMCA.
I also hosted some of the best basketball I have ever seen.
After talking to some friends, the kids, and getting some world class inspiration, I decided that the time had come to live up to my father’s legacy.
We have formed a non profit, it was approved by the state of Connecticut roughly 2 months ago, and I named it after my father.
The James Vick Foundation Inc.
Of course this meant I had to resign from the YMCA, step down as coach, which was not easy.
Tupac Shakur used to talk about a rose that grew from concrete, and what I have seen over the last 7 months has been nothing short of a miracle.
Kids that are homeless, starving, ignored, misunderstood, underappreciated unemployed, I watched them become something more, I watched the community get behind them, and when I departed two weeks ago, I left a group of hard working role models that have started something that is bigger than all of them.
It’s a program now, Kronk gym redux, a place where young people can go and be accepted, and I am so thankful to those players for giving me the chance to advance their dreams.
The YMCA I worked at is beyond dedicated to the children, and in another life, perhaps I would have continued running the program, and helping the YMCA realize it’s mission.
But I have decided to go in another direction, and I will miss the people that set me upon this very important path.
The James Vick Foundation will offer free basketball training, leagues, and resources for young men and women that lack them.
Athletics, education, and social progression.
The James Vick Foundation will provide all three, our staff will help these kids advance as athletes, students, and members of society.
In my first two weeks on the job, this foundation has already accomplished wonders.
We have been in advanced discussions with Yale University to stage our programming in the first year, but during a meeting between two of our board members, and high ranking administration officials, we were informed our idea could run afoul of NCAA rules, that such a program could put the university at risk.
Which is true, especially in this day and age, basketball is crazy business when it comes to the NCAA, and it was made clear to us that the NCAA would have to be on board for this idea to be realized.
Shortly after the meeting, I engaged the NCAA in discussions, and did so with serious apprehension, the NCAA is a very complex situation, and their rules are not exactly flexible.
I made the argument, that NCAA legislation does not currently apply to non profit organizations that work in the interest of advancing disadvantaged youth, even though millions of NCAA athletes come from at risk backrounds.
I pleaded with the NCAA, I cited the fact that I was a former NCAA athlete.
I truly believed I was continuing the mission they set me upon when the NCAA allowed me to compete at the college level free of charge.
After about a 30 minute discussion, the NCAA ruled that my idea, my foundation, was the first of it’s kind, and provided that we respected a specific set of guidelines, we would be able to move forward.
The guidelines were super reasonable.
Seven hours later, they sent me the exemption, straight documentation, which meant that our brand new foundation was disruptive, and had made history.
Our idea lives!
To read a landmark decision from the NCAA is among the most important moments in the history of my life, because now we have a chance to impact not just the New Haven community, but communities across the country.
I applaud the NCAA for their bold decision, they lived up to their stated mission, and for the second time in my life, they gave me a chance to make a difference.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t give serious propers to Yale University, even if they don’t end up hosting long term programming, for such an influential institution to believe in our kids, in this idea, is socially significant, and a massive example of community outreach.
I want to send some congrats to the board of directors, they believed in this idea from the start, and the NCAA giving us the rubber stamp is the end result of that faith, our organization can move forward, and provide a service that shoud have been in place years ago…many of these kids that get into trouble for accepting money before college need a foundation just like ours, and now they have it.
The James Vick Foundation is going to change lives, but such a feat would not be possible without belief, and the amount of belief I have seen in the last five weeks is enough to knock over a building.
So much work to do!
The NCAA, the IRS, hiring staff, fundraising, the list goes on and on, I get exhausted just thinking about it.
But we are ready to meet this challenge we have the support, the momentum, we believe history is on our side.
I want to thank my friends, my loved ones, my players.
I also want to send a shout out to my mother.
It has been hard on her, my father has been gone since 2013, and while he was remembered, celebrated by his family and friends, it’s my opinion that his legacy needed to be properly represented.
It’s a proud day for her, her departed husband’s dedication to the progression of all people will be on full display forever.
I have held off on making this announcement, in large part because the expectation was that someone else was going to make the announcement, but that’s alright, I have decided to share this with all of you myself.
The James Vick Foundation will kick off this summer.