MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gun violence across Memphis continues to impact children, many who play sports. One NFL team is stepping in to save lives by saving a football field.
For some kids, their big league dreams start with a small field.
“I want to make it to the big leagues,” said 12-year-old Kaytron Walker. “So, by me gang banging and drugs and stuff, that is not getting me nowhere but to a prison or something.”
Every week, more than 2,000 kids with PAL—the Police Activity League–-play on fields like this one in Frayser. To say the Charles Greenhill Stadium is in need of a renovation would be an understatement.
“Upgrades to concessions, press box, lighting, track and field, parking, score board,” said Craig Littles, founder and executive director of Memphis Shelby PAL. “It’s just a start of a $2 million dollar project.”
That’s where the Tennessee Titans come in.
“Hey! Memphis Shelby PAL, this is Morgan Cox, long snapper for the Tennessee Titans. Growing up in Memphis, I know all the great work you all do, and you all have received $250,000 from the NFL foundation.”
That money helping PAL continue to help kids.
“This is a game changer for our kids and our program,” Littles said.
“With the Titans being my fav team, it makes me feel noticed, and it makes me feel like they care about how we play or how safe we are,” Kaytron said.
But it isn’t just what happens on the field. It’s what happens off the field that leaves a lasting impression.
“How to be a gentlemen, how to be respectful, anything you can think of, PAL knows what to do,” Kaytron said.
“What they did for my babies is it gives us something to do every day,” said Kaytron’s mother Randi Hill. “Whether it’s mentoring, the summer program, or sports, it just keeps them out of trouble.”
That is a goal for Littles, who founded PAL in 2006. He says he’s lost about two players a year to violent crime. That includes kids like Rodriques Minor, who was killed in a double shooting downtown.
“It’s very important that we give back, that we serve,” Littles said. “They are our future. They are going to be what we instill in them. If we can instill positive things into them, there is no telling what they will be. The next president, the next senator, next business owner, the next newscaster.”
In order to make it all happen, the team has to meet it’s $2 million goal by January, matching the Titan’s $250,000 dollar for dollar.