Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
St. John’s guard Mustapha Heron raising awareness of gun violence
By ADAM ZAGORIAMustapha Heron is taking a stand on gun violence awareness.
Having been granted a legislative relief waiver to play this season at St. John’s, the 6-foot-5 Auburn transfer will now spend Saturday in his native Waterbury, Conn., promoting his “Shoot Hoops Not Guns Tournament” that is promoted by his Mustapha Heron Skills Academy.
The event involves about a dozen high school teams from New York and Connecticut playing at three recreation centers in Waterbury. It is the second event Heron has promoted to raise awareness of gun violence.
“I’m having a high school tournament in Waterbury right now,” Heron said Saturday morning by phone following the news first reported by ZAGSBLOG that he had been granted a waiver. “We have teams from Syracuse coming down and all the best teams in Connecticut, just a little preseason tournament that we hold to bring awareness to the gun violence around the state, around the city.
“A couple weeks ago I had a middle school tournament that’s 14-and-under so now this is like the sequel to it, a high school tournament.”
Heron worked with his father, Bryan Heron, on the event.
“Me and my dad pretty much put it together,” he said.
Heron has been dedicated to promoting awareness of gun violence for several years.
In 2015, Heron worked with Andy Borman, the former Duke player now coaching the NY Rens Nike EYBL team, to launch a movement where team members wore orange patches on their uniforms.
The movement was started after one of the Rens’ players, Tyrek Chambers, was shot in the stomach during a drive-by shooting in New York that summer. He spent a year in rehabilitation with a colostomy bag attached to his side.
That 2015 Rens team included Heron, Rawle Alkins, Devonte Green and Tyrique Jones.
“The initial thought [behind the movement] was, ‘Wow, look at all these young kids who won’t even have a chance to grow up and live life and chase their dreams,'” Borman told me this spring for a FloHoops.com story.
The Rens then went to Nike in 2015 and told them they were planning to wear the orange patches. From there, the movement spread to other teams, both outside the EYBL and within the EYBL, including the Long Island Lightning, whose director Jim Fox was interested in and inspired by the Rens.
This past season, all 40 EYBL teams — some 480 players — were directed to wear the patch.
According to GunViolenceArchive.org, as of Oct. 13, there have been 45,240 gun violence incidents in the U.S. in 2018, with 11,460 deaths, including 2,230 teenagers and 438 children. An average of 96 Americans die each day due to gun violence, and hundreds more are injured, according to Everytown for Gun Safety. Everytown is largely financed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and provides the orange patches to all the Nike EYBL teams, as well as various other athletic teams nationally.
“With the patches, I carried it over to having my own 13-and-under AAU team that my dad coaches,” Heron said.
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.