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Lonnie Walker hosts ‘Stop the Violence’ basketball tournament at Baer Park

The Lonnie Walker IV Foundation hosted its inaugural Stop the Violence basketball tournament at Baer Park in Reading on Saturday and Sunday. Teams were divided into two age groups, 12-17 year olds and 18 and over, and each age group had eight teams participating over two days of action that took place from 12-6 p.m. both days.

With the goal of promoting basketball as a positive outlet, many of the athletes on hand embraced the anti-violence message championed by the event.

“Honestly, I just wanted to say that the most important thing for everybody is that we put the guns down and pick the basketballs up,” Reading Rebels forward Javon Adams said. “Just keep playing basketball. To all the young kids: keep playing basketball.”

Reading Rebels forward Javon Adams goes for a dunk at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Reading Rebels forward Javon Adams goes for a dunk at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

And despite the weekend’s scorching temperatures, plenty of basketball was played, as games for each group went simultaneously each day.

3rd and Spruce Rec Warriors won the 17U championship and team SWRV won the 18 over championship.

For the middle school and high school athletes in attendance, the chance to get to play in front of Walker was certainly one to remember.

“It feels great; he’s an inspiration of mine,” Colin Legath of Wilson Southern Middle School said. “How he made it to the NBA (was inspirational) and I think it’s just great to play in it.”

Colin Legath dribbles the ball in a game at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Colin Legath dribbles the ball in a game at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

“It means a lot to me because he’s someone I look up to in my life and he’s taught me a lot so it’s cool to be here with him,” Muhlenberg senior Shermar Killen said. “Last summer we worked out for like a week straight and I was with him every day. He told me to stay focused, school comes first, be respectful and always greet people with a smile.”

Muhlenberg senior Shermar Killen shooting at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Muhlenberg senior Shermar Killen shooting at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

Walker, a guard with the Brooklyn Nets, was in attendance for both days of the tournament, interacting with fans, friends, family members and players while encouraging the same lessons Killen said he received.

In addition, Walker played casual 1-v-1 games and shot around, autographed basketballs and took pictures with many throughout the weekend’s festivities.

“I feel blessed to have the ability to have people come here to have fun, enjoy themselves and spread love within the community to one another,” Walker said. “It’s one of the most beautiful things that you can possibly ask for. So it’s very heartwarming to see a whole bunch of kids that I’ve known since middle school, high school, and elementary school right here.

“I think it’s a full circle moment.”

Reading High graduate and Brooklyn Nets guard Lonnie Walker IV speaking at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Reading High graduate and Brooklyn Nets guard Lonnie Walker IV speaking at the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

The tournament was a full circle moment for Muhlenberg junior Jadin Perez as well, who, as the son of former Reading High Red Knights coach Rick Perez, has spent a fair amount of time with Walker, a Reading High graduate who led the Red Knights to their first state title in 2017.

From playing on (and breaking) a mini-hoop with Walker in the Perez’ kitchen, to watching Lonnie on the court as a professional and with Reading High, Jadin Perez has seen Walker’s exceptional character first hand.

And after playing with his team on Saturday and speaking with Walker courtside, Perez reflected on the pride that Walker has for his hometown community.

“No matter what happens or who he signs with he’s the same: it’s love and joy,” Jadin Perez said. “The bond never changes.

“It (playing in the tournament) was good. It was fun. It was hot, and it was amazing to see all these people come out for a good cause.”

Reading Rebels owner Jonathan Gross playing in the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)
Reading Rebels owner Jonathan Gross playing in the 2024 Stop the Violence Tournament hosted by the Lonnie Walker IV Foundation at Baer Park in Reading. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

A good cause, loads of action and numerous members of the Reading basketball scene taking part, the Stop the Violence Tournament served as yet another sign that Walker and his foundation are looking to improve the city of Reading wherever his basketball journey takes him.

“It’s a very important cause,” Walker said. “A lot of people lose a lot of friends and family and that grief is like no other. So to continue to promote it and everyone continuously acknowledge it and try to be better for the city is really important to me.”


Source: Berkshire mont

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