Being a champion is not simply defined by the number of awards that one has earned.
Champions are built differently.
The legend Muhammad Ali stated, “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
The No Excuses Foundation and ProAm Summer League, based in Houston, Texas, has been breeding these champions for over 30 years with increased visibility each year. The foundation began with a focus in athletics, specifically basketball, and community outreach.
Marco Breaux has worked with the league since the early 1970s by taking stats and coaching players, and he has witnessed its impact in the community, as well as the dynamic change that has taken place through the men that have participated.
“This league has probably been going on since the 70s, as far back as when Moses Malone was playing [with the Houston Rockets]. He kind of started doing the summer league at the Fonde [Recreation Center],” said Breaux. “The guys used to play for fun in the summer to give the fans some free visibility of the guys.”
Breaux went on to discuss how some of the top high school and college players would even come out to the league to compete against the NBA players. One of the most notable athletes he mentioned was San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Jonathon Simmons, who played a key role in the 2016-17 season as he helped his team reach the Western Conference Finals.
“[Simmons] played with us last year and made a big difference in San Antonio this year…I think part of that for him is getting good work in the summer, you know, in our league,” said Breaux.
“The sky is the limit for him now.”
Anthony Washington, who is another longtime supporter and worker in the summer league, shares Breaux’s sentiments. Through this event, Washington has worked alongside players like Moses Malone, Karl Godine and Hakeem Olajuwon just to name a few.
“Through my experience with the guys, I have been able to talk to guys about their life experiences, not just basketball,” said Washington. “I have gotten 193 athletes and college players that are girls and boys into colleges.”
Under the new leadership of co-founders Casey Williams and his wife Jillian Williams, the foundation has expanded to education, the arts, volunteer opportunities for college students and many other educational outreach programs.
Jillian oversees the arts portion of the foundation, specifically relating to fashion fundraisers. The money donated to these events, like the annual Diamonds and Bowties gala, goes towards scholarships for high school and college students in the Houston area.
“The first annual Diamonds and Bowties was in December. We gave two scholarships for the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA),” said Jillian. “That was able to give them funds to do summer camps to help better them in the music industry.”
This blend of arts, athletics and education in the nurturing of student’s lives helps to mold them into well-rounded champions in the future.
As a part of its education initiative, the foundation has asked that fans donate school supplies in exchange of paying for entry to the summer league events. These supplies will be donated at the end of the summer to local schools in need.
To find out more information about the No Excuses Foundation, visit their website noexcusesfoundation.net. Be sure to visit the Houston ProAm Summer League at Fonde Recreation Center every Monday and Wednesday this summer.