By Mrinal Gokhale
Kenny “The Jet” Smith, two-time NBA champion, spoke over a microphone as cameras flashed and audience members listened while he announced MillerCoor’s $16,000 donation for Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals to repair Washington Park’s basketball courts.
The donation was part of an initiative by MillerCoors called “reFRESH”, which aims to refurbish local basketball courts.
MillerCoors employees and Urban League members posed with Smith holding the giant check as various news media photographed.
Smith gave his speech on May 20 at 1 p.m. at Major Goolsby’s, a sports bar near the Journal Sentinel building and the Bradley Center.
About 60 people attended the exclusive event, including Milwaukee Urban League members, various news media, local radio DJ’s, politicians and other public figures such as Rayna Andrews, Mandela Barnes, Marlin Hill of 98.3, DJ Gee-A of V100.7 and Paul Hemming of Save Our Bucks.
“This is the second year of the Coors Light Full Court reFRESH program and we’ve done a good job,” said Smith.
“Sports are a melting pot of communities, races and religions.
The first time I hugged someone of another ethnicity was on a basketball court.”
Smith said that he has used basketball courts all his life, and he thinks it’s important for courts to be well maintained.
“A basketball court is the center piece of the community. You want any center piece to look good.”
This was not Smith’s first time visiting Milwaukee. He said that he visited over a decade ago as a basketball player for North Carolina beating Marquette.
As a TNT basketball analyst, he also discussed the Milwaukee Bucks and their new coach, saying he’s surprised at how well the team is playing.
Smith then added that the donations do not stop at $16,000, and that people who are 21 years old and up can increase the dollar amount donated.
Hashtags for the day: ‘FullCourtRefresh’ and ‘Over21’. According to Smith, Coors would donate a certain amount depending on how many times the hashtags were used on social media.
The Coors Light Full Court reFRESH program donates to National Urban League Young Professionals (NULYP) chapters to refurbish basketball courts.
Three chapters received a donation last year with even more chapters this year in addition to Milwaukee.
“Kenny helps promote the program through his TV show and social media,” said Joe Sargent, multicultural brand manager at MillerCoors.
“We chose Washington Park because it’s close to the Miller brewery.”
Sean Lowe, president of the Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals aims to repair every basketball court in Washington Park.
He feels that the turnout that afternoon was good for being held during the day.
“Washington Park is well known to Milwaukee youth for basketball,” he said. “We chose the neighborhood because of its short distance from the brewery and because it’s underserved.”
Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals is an auxiliary of the Milwaukee Urban League, and is dedicated to activism and community service for young professionals. Visit http://www.tmulyp.org/ for more information.