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Late-night basketball program to help young people in Macon get away from crime

Mayor Lester Miller is sponsoring a grant to restart a program from 20 years ago as a way to keep youth out of the streets.

MACON, Ga. — 20 years ago, you used to be able to play late night basketball in Macon, and now it's back.

Mayor Lester Miller announced he is sponsoring a grant to restart the initiative through the Macon Violence Prevention program.

"It keeps a lot of people out of trouble -- like, for real, it keeps a lot of people out of trouble," Dontavis Lee said.

On Friday and Saturday nights, 32-year-old Lee laces up his sneakers to participate in Macon's late night basketball.

It goes from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends throughout the year. He says his favorite part is meeting new people through the program.

"It always gives you something to do Fridays and Saturdays instead of being outside clubbing and stuff like that," Lee said.

Teams are open to people ages 16 and up, but they must first attend a 45-minute class before playing. Their motto is, "No workshop, no jump-shot!"
While Dewayne Godbee may go to play the game, he also enjoys talking in the classes about how to work on being his best self.

"We was talking to each other about situations we done and the past and talk about things we could have done differently," Godbee said.

The classes focus on things like teambuilding and job skills including financial management and how to handle disputes, along with many more.

Quaid Stone plays and is also an administrator for the Community Empowerment Center. He says his favorite part is, "Seeing the community engage with each other and display healthy communication with one another."

When they started it 20 years ago, basketball supervisor Myles Patrick knew it was something they could do to make a difference.

"Because the age group that was getting in trouble on Friday and Saturday night. Between the hours of 10 and 2, they have nothing to do in Macon -- nothing," Patrick said.

As for where the program goes in the future, "I hope it continues. I hope it gets bigger than what it is," Lee said.

"It empowers everyone involved in it as well as getting everyone off the streets, so if we can get everyone together in one place doing something positive, we can all make a good change in the community," Godbee said.

Anyone 16 and up can play, and while it's geared toward getting younger teens off the streets, they have people as old as 40 on the teams.

It's free to play, and if you want to register, you can do that at the Community Empowerment Center's website.

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