, Contributing Editor
Following inspiring message, 14-year-old baller takes home $1,000 prize
CHICAGO–The Muhammad University of Islam gymnasium was recently filled with “shooters” from the community, more than 300 of them. They weren’t there to inflict harm on their brothers or sisters, however; they had come for an opportunity at a $1,000 prize during a “Stop the Violence! Shoot for A $1,000 Gift” event to address the violence in communities and to hear a message of inspiration and guidance.
Dozens of hoopsters had taken their one shot for glory before Lamarion Hayes, 14, stepped to the half-court line and sized up the challenge. With a quick dribble and a few running steps, he launched the ball toward the net and … swish!
The room exploded with cheers and Lamarion jumped for joy.
“Whoa, whoa,” emcee Student Minister Abdul Muhammad exclaimed. “He made it!”
Another hundred or so “b-ballers” would follow Lamarion without success. Lamarion was declared the sole winner.
“I was confident that I was going to make it,” an excited Lamarion told The Final Call. “When I made it, I wasn’t thinking about the money. I was thinking about how I made it.” He explained that he has a friend who taught him a lot about basketball and that his god-brother, a professional player, was killed by gun violence. “I was doing it for him,” he said.
“Before the shot I asked God to take over,” Lamarion’s mother, Tonetta Miles, told The Final Call. When the shot went through “I ran across the court to hug him. His coaches have taught him well,” she said.The Dec. 29 event was the brainchild of Abdul Malik Muhammad and Sondra Muhammad of the “#1 Fishing Team HQ” (Headquarters), a group of believers dedicated to “fishing” for people who have never visited the Nation of Islam’s headquarters Mosque Maryam to hear the teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad through his representative, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
The team started as a result of the FOI and MGT (men and women of the Nation of Islam) falling short of their goal to fill Christ Universal Temple for Min. Farrakhan’s Holy Day of Atonement message in October. Since then, the 1 Fishing Team HQ has brought scores of “first timers” to the mosque each week.
Abdul Malik Muhammad explained that it was the words of Student Assistant Supreme Captain Abdul Aziz Muhammad shortly after the Holy Day of Atonement that sparked his motion.
“He asked me, ‘when are you gonna get back on your post?’” Abdul Malik Muhammad said.
First there was the word
The day began as a line of visitors snaked around the mosque into the parking lot. Inside they heard a message of uplift from Minister Ishmael Muhammad, student national assistant to Min. Farrakhan.
In his message titled “Nurturing Our Potential,” Min. Ishmael told the audience each of them is made for greatness by Allah (God) and that’s why they are attracted to stars (celebrities).
He noted the rising number of suicides among Blacks while suicides are declining among Whites. This tells us there is great despair and a sense of hopelessness in the Black community, he said.
The special talent inside each person must be developed and that takes sacrifice, he said. Talented artists and entertainers devote time and effort to develop their gift, he said.
“You always have to outgrow the space, the environment where you are in order to be delivered from that space. Once you grow in knowledge and wisdom, you grow beyond where you are.
“You and I have potential for greatness … but we’re sitting dormant in the Black community. The (White) slave masters’ children aren’t going to give us what we need to fulfill our potential,” he explained.
The program in the mosque ended with a drill team exhibition by the Jr. MGT and Jr. Vanguard (young women and girls of the Nation) and a martial arts demonstration.
In the gymnasium, attendees were treated to music by a DJ and performances by a community step team with pompom cheerleaders and spoken word artist Spencer “Spenzo” Cain. Food and refreshments also were served.“The professionalism of the shootout program reminded me of a professional game at the United Center,” Sondra Muhammad told The Final Call. “The children were very disciplined. The people ate good food and heard good music. We worked hard for two weeks promoting the event and Allah blessed us.”
Abdul Malik Muhammad said success of the day was attributed to “the unification of the FOI and MGT” working toward the goal. “We wanted to create a loving and kind space for our guests, and that’s what our guests told me they felt,” he said. “They loved the atmosphere of the believers.”
Asst. Supreme Captain Abdul Aziz Muhammad echoed Abdul Malik Muhammad’s words. “We said we will atone for the Holy Day of Atonement by filling the mosque for Min. Ishmael while the Honorable Min. Farrakhan views it. Our whole movement now is to continuously fill the mosque,” he said.
The difficulty of the Holy Day of Atonement “made us to feel troubled enough to change our condition. Allah tells us that He will not change a people’s condition until they change their own. Because of our condition, my condition, changed, it helped me to move out to help someone else to change theirs.”