About 20 teams turned out for the first annual 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament Saturday morning that benefitted the Alray Scholars Program at the Clark Athletic Center at UMass-Boston.
Alray Scholars is a part scholarship and part-mentoring program designed specifically for graduates of Boston public schools. The organization mostly deals with former BPS students who’ve left college but anticipate re-enrolling.
The Alray Scholars program was founded in 2008 as a dedication to former Charlestown basketball standout Alray Taylor, who was shot and killed days before his 22nd birthday in 2006.
Taylor, who had a scholarship to University of New Hampshire, grew up in Mission Hill and helped Charlestown win three of their four state championships, spanning from 1999-2003.
The book, The Assist, written by Boston Globe Magazine writer Neil Swidey, inspired the creation of the organization. The book describes Charlestown’s state championship runs behind head coach Jack O’Brien, who is on the Alray Scholars board along with Swidey.
O’Brien also attended Saturday’s tournament and watched some familiar faces compete. He talked briefly of Taylor, and what the event means for the organization.
“Alray was a great player for us,” he said. “So what we’re doing here is tying basketball in as an effort to make some money for the foundation, so it’s always a good time. Playing three-on-three’s always interesting to watch too.”
A team led by former Charlestown High star Ridley Johnson, who is on the cover of The Assist, won the double-elimination tournament.
"It feels good to be part of something special just to keep Alray's name alive," Johnson said.
Charlestown High and Brighton High fielded teams as well and another team was led by Brighton coach Hugh Coleman.
Globe Correspondent Justin A. Rice helped plan the tournament and the Globe sponsored a team.
Before the tournament began WEEI Radio host and former Boston Globe writer Michael Holley thanked the players for coming while playfully warning them how lucky the we’re that he wasn’t out there competing in his Nike’s.
He also made it certain to acknowledge the profound affect sports can have on the lives of young kids.
“Basketball has the power to forge friendships,” Holley said. “So I’m excited to be here, but more excited to be here for such a great cause. Let’s keep that in mind today; we’re playing ball and we’re having a lot of fun, but more importantly if you ever have an opportunity to help someone along the way, you really have no idea of how influential you can be.”
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- Justin A. Rice -- A metro Detroit native, Rice is a Michigan State University (Go Spartans!) and Northeastern University graduate. Rice lives in the South End with his dog and wife, who unfortunately attended the University of Michigan ... his wife, that is. He curates the BPS Sports Blog and is always looking to write about city athletes with great stories. Have an idea? He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeJustinRice or @BPSspts.
- Ryan Butler -- A Rhode Island native and avid Boston sports fan, Butler played basketball, baseball and football throughout his time in Barrington Public Schools. Now currently in his middler year at Northeastern University, he joins Boston.com as a correspondent for the site's BPS coverage. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on his Twitter @butler_globe.