On Saturday morning, before Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast, the sun was shining at Moss Point as Phoenix Suns goalie Devin Booker returned to River City to unveil two renovated basketball courts in the community.
Booker, along with the 2K Foundation and artist Mister Cartoonist, designed two outdoor courts for the city in which the 2x NBA All-Star graduated from high school and became the player and person he is today. ‘hui.
Devin’s dad and former NBA player Melvin Booker said, “Man, I’m almost in tears because these people are so proud of him and you know I’ve had him all season. with the year he had. I was getting so many texts and calls from people here that they really supported him and they were really excited for him.
After a historic season with the Suns, leading his team to the franchise’s first NBA Finals since 1993 and winning a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with Team USA, NBA Guard and the former Moss Point alum Devin Booker returned to his old playground.
Family, friends and dozens of community members gathered to watch the ribbon cutting of two basketball courts that Booker had been working with 2K Foundation on since November. Melvin Booker said, “It feels good to give back to the community, man. We are humble guys. How silly to have a number there, but it’s like… Moss Point is like a big family community. It’s amazing to see the smiles on the faces of all these people that I grew up with here.
Collaborating with LA artist Mister Cartoonist, the former Tiger added personal touches to the courts like his father’s Moss Point number and paying homage to his late uncle, Lil ‘Mike. “Devin talks about Mike all the time. Like when we’re out there, it’s like – one thing he said to me was during the national anthem that he and you know he had. with his eyes closed he’s someone he thinks about is Mike. And he honors her a lot on his shoes. So Mike was a big part of his life. Like I said, it’s like a great uncle He was always there and you know it was special.
One of the refurbished courts is located at Jackson County Boys and Girls Clubs. The second court is in an area of Moss Point known as South 40, an area attended by a group of 40 men who grew up there. South 40 member Reginald Murphy said, “Tony Berry, he told us 30 years ago, he said dude, if you don’t let the drugs be sold here you never have a problem and we’ll get it. ‘ve understood. We never allowed it. We come here, we hang out, we shoot the ball. We clean it up. We do the landscaping. Take her advice from him. He had a vision. He gave it to us and we ran with it.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the park, which was recently named Calvin ‘Choke’ Stallworth Park, was a swamp and then a city dumping ground. “When I was in elementary school in Charlotte Heights in the 1970s, I used to walk from school this route. We used to play on a garbage heap. And we’ve gone from playing on a garbage pile now to a basketball court. And now the transition. Now we have a gold medalist here, man. You know, in his honor, we have a whole new tribunal.
To top off the Devin Booker Day celebrations, Moss Point Mayor Billy Knight presented Booker with a Key to the City, inviting the NBA star to return to his hometown at any time.
Every Thursday, the South 40 crew still gather at the park for camaraderie and some hoops. Everyone is invited to join.