New league gives basketball players second chance to raise their game

Updated: Dec. 30, 2018 at 2:19 PM CST
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HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - You may not expect to see slam dunks or long three pointers at the Hammond Rec Center, a spot normally reserved for friendly pickup games. But this year, there’s a new league with one goal: providing a second chance. The Jesus Christ Institutional Holiness Pro Sports League is based in North Carolina, and the organization brought games to Louisiana this year.

It’s meant to give high-level players an opportunity to showcase their talents, despite setbacks, such as drug problems and arrest records that have slowed their careers. “It’s a humbling situation," said Corey Blake, who is originally from Lecompte, Louisiana. "I got in contact with some wonderful people, they got to talking to me they made it sound interesting.”

What makes this league different from others though is its focus on faith and community. The players attend a service before every game, and a pastor leads them in prayer right before tip off.

Baton Rouge pastor Ronnie Stalling makes the trip every week to help the players on their journey. “We serve a god that gives second chances, more more than second chances,” Stalling said. “So, why as a community and a society can’t we give second chances to these young men.”

The players have a range of goals. Some do still have high hopes of making it to the NBA D-League or even higher, while others just want to rekindle their love of the game. Onochie Ochie Jr. starred at Southeastern and was playing professional basketball in Germany when a knee injury derailed his career.

Now working on a Master’s degree and raising a family, he still hopes something can come of his basketball skills. “Just recently got married, first child on the way. I’m a family man, so that’s really my main focus. So really man, we’ll just see where it goes.”

It costs ten dollars to attend. The best way to keep up with the league is on their Facebook page.

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