A local outreach program is working to build champions on and off the basketball court.
For Coach Antonio Cotton, the biggest wins come from the bonds built and barriers his players are breaking.
Impact League players at the Arkansas Athletes Outreach look like ordinary kids but many are not just there to play basketball but to also to stay out of harms way.
“It’s like a big thing for me,” said basketball player Jayden McCoy.
Every dribble, every drive down the court, and every shot is an opportunity.
“It takes them off of the streets and helps me speak inspiration to them,” Coach Cotton said.
Getting into the gym and out of troubled situations is a point for the impact league, something that Coach Cotton knows first hand.
“The streets would swallow them whole, I have friends now that are serving time and some dead. I just don’t want my kid or anyone else kid to follow in that direction,” Cotton said.
Two of his players were shot just two months ago in Pine Bluff.
Now back in action on the court, they are looking to turn their lives around.
“He’s been in my life for a while and he’s been trying to help me because I’ve been in the streets,” said basketball player Nathan Logan.
“Hey let’s stop the violence, let’s all come together and do the right thing,” Cotton said.
While not everyone in the league come from at-risk situations, others are just thankful to have a place to go with positive guidance.
“I just met Mr. Antonio just like a month ago, and ever since then he’s been like someone I can look up to,” McCoy said.
Not only making an impact league on the lives of the players but allowing them to pass on the lessons they learn to friends and families around them.
“I was one of those kids, but that didn’t define my future, and that is the main message is how you grew up doesn’t define your future,” Cotton said.