The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Mother Channels Grief into Life Lessons in Bed-Stuy Basketball Tournament

 Oresa Napper-Williams founded the group Not Another Child after the death of her son, Andrell, in 2006.
Oresa Napper-Williams stands with the 2010 champions in the Playing For Change youth basketball tournament.
View Full Caption

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — For many parents, the death of a child can cause grief impossible to overcome.

But one Bed-Stuy mother has channeled that grief into helping others.

In 2007, Oresa Napper-Williams, 46, founded the group Not Another Child, which tries to help kids stay off the streets and avoid violence. 

Part of that mission includes the Playing For Change youth basketball tournament, dedicated to the memory of her son Andrell Napper, who was innocently shot and killed in front of the Tompkins Houses on Aug. 7, 2006 at the age of 21, while waiting outside for a family member.

Now in its seventh year, Playing For Change is a summer-long tournament and outreach program that aims to teach and mentor young men in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

"I wanted to create a platform to talk to the young men," Napper-Williams said. "I wanted to give them something to do."

This year's tournament comes to a head on Saturday at Banneker Playground, where the final teams square off to be crowned champions in both the 15-and-younger division and the 16-and-older division.

The tournament includes a lot of young first-timers as well as "veterans" who have grown up with the league, Napper-Williams said.

"I've seen some of these young men grow out of one division and into another," Napper-Williams said. "They came in at 13, 14, now they're 17, 18, going away to college."

While there, kids learn lessons from mentors like 500 Men Making a Difference, a local community service group that aims to increase civic engagement with the youth in Bed-Stuy. There's also games for kids, like mini-golf and tennis, and this year, former Nets point guard Kenny Anderson will be on hand to hang out with the kids and maybe teach him a lesson or two.

The tournament has been a way for Napper-Williams to help make even a small difference in a neighborhood she said has been rocked by violence through the years.

And despite the neighborhood's improvements, she said there's still a way to go.

"It has changed, from what I can see," Napper-Williams said. "The crime has gone down somewhat.

"But I still say that one life lost is one life too many."