NBA All-Star Weekend hosts 'Black Lives Matter' event for students

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Rob Nelson reports from Harlem. (WABC)

The NBA All-Star Weekend is now officially underway, and some of the league's biggest stars are in New York City.

But the gathering isn't just about basketball. More than 1,000 students gathered at a church in Harlem to focus on community empowerment at a Black Lives Matter event featuring NBA greats Isiah Thomas and Alonzo Mourning.

"Black lives really do matter," student Ronald Brown said. "Education is the key, because without it, we wouldn't really be anything."

"We gotta make a positive change in the community," student Devante Morris added. "We gotta change our mindset in order to think better. We're the future."

They spread their message through spoken word.

"There will always be people who look at me as a threat," one young speaker said. "Now I'll have to work twice as hard, be twice as good, just to earn a little bit of society's respect."

They also shared through song and through hard truths.

"You think you got this magic wand and you can just get it right away," Mourning said. "No, you gotta work to get that, brother."

Messages of hard work and purpose filled the church in an event that targeted black and latino students, bringing together activists, actors and athletes to preach the power of their example.

"I feel like I'm becoming a better man because they're putting me on the right path," student Junior Zaguehi said.

After months of racial tension following the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case, the message was clear: Own and shape your own life.

"Life has options," Mourning said. "And you create those options by the decisions that you make."

Many of the panelists on stage shared their stories of overcoming poverty and tough childhoods, and stressed that education is the best way out.

"When I go back home to the west side of Chicago, I am not introduced as a two-time NBA champion first," Thomas said. "I am introduced as a Master of Education from the University of California at Berkeley. This is Isiah Thomas, and that is my story."

Related Topics:
educationeducationeric garnerbasketballNBAHarlem (Central)New York City
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