Jah Rawlings of the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League talked to rolling out briefly about all things basketball and more.
How did the league get started?
I was working here in the basketball community in Atlanta, and being from New York, I realized that the basketball lifestyle and NBA culture resonated from where I was from, and Atlanta had all of the pieces as well, but the only thing that was missing was the basketball component. So when I saw that the lane was wide open to do what I needed to do, I took advantage and from there the AEBL was created from my thought process as a child, seeing what Atlanta needed, and using the community as the platform.
How was the first year for the AEBL?
The first year was hectic and it was a huge adjustment for me because my vision and idea wasn’t built in Atlanta so we moved to Central Park, and we had to make major adjustments, from the weather to players wanting to play on the asphalt versus playing in the gym, but ultimately we accomplished our goal, which was to have a great first year.
Who are some of the NBA players that have supported the league?
The list is endless, and we appreciate their support, but we’ve had Louis Williams, Jarrett Jack, J.J. Hickson, Jordan Hill, Jamario Moon, Damian Wilkens, Shelven Mack, Dwight Howard, etc; and we plan to have more this year, but those are the main players that have participated in some way.
How do you guys give back to the community?
That’s the whole purpose of the league, to be honest with you… I mean it’s great to have the athletes and entertainers there but ideally, we try to make the league for the community. The event is totally free, and we also do a huge charity event in December called, “Hoop for a Cause,” and we also do youth clinics, back to school drives, and again, everything that we do is based in the community.
Who are some of the entertainers that have been a part of this league?
2 Chainz, K. Camp, Trindad James, Migos, I mean you name it, the artist has stopped through, and anything that we ask them to do, from interviews to taking pictures with the kids, they do it. And they’re pillars in the city as well because everyone thinks of music when it comes to Atlanta, but we’re actually building the basketball component and just having the artists involved is amazing.
What do you want the impact to be this year?
I always tell people, I want this to be the place to go for everyone in the community. We are at year three, and I want to make sure that we are impacting Metro Atlanta as much as possible.
Any upcoming events?
We are actually moving from Central Park to Grady High School. We will be partnering with Grady because a lot of their kids need community service in order to graduate, so we will be partnering with them in order to offer that service, and also we will be partnering with them for some athletic funding. We also have two additional teams, so instead of 10, we have 12 this year. We also just partnered with V-103 and that alone will give us more of a presence in the community, and our goal is always to be the best summer league in the country. The start date will be June 6, and the championship game will be Aug. 9.
By: Andre Ellington