Athlete gives back to African American youth

Prep sceneDonnell Gibson’s dream has become a reality. The former St. Paul Johnson boys’ basketball standout recently created the Gibson Foundation.

The organization was developed last year by Gibson — who currently serves as a behavior intervention specialist at St. Paul Como Park High School — to inspire, nurture and support African youth.

Through a partnership with St. Paul Parks and Recreation, along with financial assistance from McDonald’s and Metro Wireless, the Gibson Foundation’s Hope and Heels Summer Basketball League — held at Arlington Hills Recreation Center in St. Paul — recently concluded its second week of competition.

Donnell Gibson
Donnell Gibson Photo by Mary K. Boyd

In that span, 60 African American males ages 10-18 competed while connecting with adults invested in their development and community involvement while implementing the organization’s guiding principles of Respect, Accountability and Honor (RAH).

The Hope and Heals League was Gibson’s vision, but he had plenty of help and support.

Coaches included Chris Pierce, Kevin Story, Shaun Ross, and John Robinson.

Chip Williams, Kelly Brown and Marcel Thompson provided valuable mentorship.

Jocelyn Webb Sims and Frank Williams Jr. served as referees.

Gibson was a point guard at Johnson from 2002-2004. During the 2003-04 season, he led the Governors to the St. Paul City Conference title and a fourth-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament and was selected that summer to participate in the Inner City All-Star Classic.

The 30-year old and father of four children has received numerous honors and recognition after singlehandedly saving 10 strangers from a St. Paul fire on April 1, 2015.

Kristy Pierce, a supporter and contributor to the development of the Gibson Foundation who works with Gibson as a behavior intervention specialist at Como Park, summed up the significance of her colleague’s work with young African American males on her Facebook page.

“Keeping it all the way real, it’s about Donnell’s vision and commitment to giving back a portion of what was given to him,” Pierce posted recently. “A true visionary and a vision of possibility for our young men.”


Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to