On Saturday, July 15, Bobby Brown’s “Beyond the Court” Violence Prevention Initiative basketball clinic was held at the Colin Powell Gym, located at 2924 4th Ave. in South Minneapolis.
The event, which is held annually, commemorates July 15, 1997, when Beyond the Court’s co-founder Bobby Brown III, his two sisters and 10-month-old niece were victims of a drive-by shooting.
Bobby, who was 15 at the time, suffered a spinal cord injury from a bullet that left him in a wheelchair. This senseless act of violence inspired the Brown family to start a nonprofit to raise awareness about the effects of violence on Twin Cities youth.
This year, Hennepin County Sheriff Dawanna Witt, who grew up in the neighborhood, participated in the violence prevention basketball clinic, which provides local youth the opportunities to learn basketball skills and sportsmanship, interact with positive role models, and reinforce the philosophy of nonviolence in the community.
“I grew up in this very neighborhood and saw how the systems failed us,” said Sheriff Witt, at Saturday’s event, recalling that two of her siblings were lost to violence. She recalled that during her career she was pushed out of law enforcement in the very neighborhood she grew up in, because friends and family members had been incarcerated.
“Some mistakes in life are learning lessons.” She encouraged the participants using her own experiences and journey by way of explanation. “We weren’t built to break. So when there’s adversity, don’t turn away. Face it. Be strong and never be afraid to fail.”