A recent exhibition men’s basketball game between Howard University and American University, was not only centered around showcasing athleticism, but helped raise awareness on a problem facing local, national and academic communities: gun violence.
Blake Bozeman, a former standout at Morgan State University, was recently tragically killed at a club in Northeast Washington. He was attending a birthday celebration for a friend when an altercation broke out and he got caught in the crossfire.
The incident took place not far from where Washington Commanders’ running back Brian Robinson was the victim of carjacking and gunshot wound a little over a year ago.
This game was the third tribute or memorial to Blake since his death in September. The previous two celebrations took place at the Hill Fieldhouse on the Morgan State campus and Bowie State University in Prince George’s County, where his family are residents.
This basketball game, however, had a different meaning and purpose.
“For Howard University and American University to come together, along with others, to address this serious problem in our community, speaks loudly, ” said At-Large D.C. Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie (I), who was in attendance along with a throng of local media and who’s who of local basketball. “There are a lot of victims of this terrible epidemic and we find that athletes, although they are special to some, are no exceptions when it comes to this. This was a great opportunity to address it.”
The young Blake played at St. Albans and Bullis Prep before attending Morgan State on a basketball scholarship to play for his father, Todd Bozeman. While at the Baltimore school, Blake had an outstanding career. Following his collegiate career, he rapidly moved up the ladder. First, he received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Morgan State.
He then got into the real estate business, while at the same time becoming an entrepreneur– owning 10 vending machines. Tireless and committed to making a difference, Blake used sports as a vehicle and formed his own organization, Pivot Group, which provided counseling and guidance to former athletes as they transitioned from sports and athletics to other careers.
Just recently, he added even more to his plate, becoming a volunteer basketball coach at Riverdale Baptist before his passing.
Basketball, entrepreneurship and giving back were only part of Blake’s many passions. Moreover, he was also the father of three young children and recently married this past June.
“This is one of the hardest things in my life,’ admitted an emotional Todd Bozeman. “It is surreal. I keep waiting to get a text or a call from him. We were really, really close and he was doing so well.”
Having coached at Cal Berkeley, where he was the youngest coach to lead a team to the Elite Eight, Todd has created a legacy of his own. At Morgan, he turned the program around and became one of the most successful coaches in school history.
Many in attendance, including coaches from opposing teams and former players, had watched Blake Bozeman from the time of his infancy.
“We all feel this,” said an emotional Howard head coach Kenneth Blakeney. “I have known them both for years, so this is personal for me. I am so happy that we can all come together to honor Blake, be there for Todd and help raise awareness to this.”
American University first-year head coach Duane Simpkins also weighed in on the importance of the moment.
“On paper, this is an exhibition game between two locals and I want to win as much as Kenny. But this is much bigger than basketball. We have to all do our best to address this problem. We are glad to be a part of establishing this legacy for Blake,” said Simpkins.
In honor of Blake and all those who have been lost to gun violence, all proceeds from the game will benefit the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, a local charitable organization dedicated to building sustainable and mutually beneficial community relationships.
As an added bonus, NBA former standout players Jason Kidd and Sharif Abdul Raheem, who played for Todd at Cal Berkeley, have made donations to a future educational fund set aside for Blake’s children.
Source: Washington Informer