Two years ago, Lloyd Ross started D.I.D Hoopers as way of mentoring and giving a positive outlook on life to kids from ages 9 to 15 in Jackson. D.I.D., which is an Amateur Athletic Union traveling basketball team, now has 50 kids in the program, with seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade teams.
"Some parents have to work long hours or don't care, and that leaves these kids in the street, where trouble finds them because they don't have other places to go."
Ross says the mentoring program uses basketball to teach life lessons. The name D.I.D standing for desire, intensity and
determination. "Every child can be successful if they have desire to want to be great, intensity that gives them fire inside, and determination to do what you have to do to make it in life" Ross says.
"A kid doesn't' have to be the smartest, most liked, or best-looking to succeed in life. D.I.D gives strength and power to succeed, and gives kids what they need and something to live up too."
Ross graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans, receiving his occupational therapy degree in 2007. From 2008 to 2011, he taught science at Whitten Middle School in Jackson.
Ross is passionate about his program. He says he draws inspiration from Psalm 28:7, which says, "The Lord is my strength and shield; my heart trusts him and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and song when I praise him."
"Children are my ministry, and I want to shield them from the streets and give them strength to be great," Ross says. "It takes time for some of these kids to trust me and let me help them."
His kids know that they have to do the work in the classroom to get on the court, so tutors from the Yates Save-A-Seed Foundation in Jackson have helped the students. He provides tutors to kids that may need extra help to be successful students.
"One of my kids fell a grade level behind," Ross says. "He was able to get in a school program, and our tutoring has helped him catch back up and he will graduate with his class in the future. Another kid ended up in alternative school in the seventh grade. We gave him an opportunity, and he has worked on his schooling and gotten his life on track. It took him losing basketball and our team letting him play to know how much he missed it. He learned to use basketball to do better with his life."
But Ross says some of the kids need more than just help in the classroom. Other players struggle with issues from their upbringing.
"I have a kid that has bounced around from home to home. He has anger issues and a lot that is going on in his home life," Ross says. "We have worked with him on his anger and let him know that there are better ways of handling things such as praying and turning over some troubles to God. The coaches have encouraged him to breathe and relax when things don't go his way. This young man is still a work in progress, but he is learning to control his anger from a rough upbringing."
For more information on D.I.D. Hoopers, find the team on Facebook.