Ballers Against Bullets: An Alabama Group Aiming to Reduce Violence with Sports

On June 10, the Anniston Performing Arts Center will host a community event where Omari Hardwick, an actor and former athlete, will be joining violence prevention advocate Angela Harris.

Ballers Against Bullets is an event aimed at children and young adults residing in eastern Alabama. The Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention conducted a recent survey that revealed gun violence as the primary cause of death among children in the state, which is a major concern for the local community.

In a bid to combat the spread of violent narratives on social media that negatively affect children, the organization is optimistic that the event will make a difference.

Seyram Selase, the executive director of Agency for Substance Abuse Prevention, believes that celebrity athletes can play a vital role in curbing the trend of young individuals indulging in violent activities. According to Selase, if these celebrities speak up against such behavior, it will significantly impact the youth who idolize them and look up to them. “We feel that if those celebrity athletes, if they make it lame for these young people to be out here killing each other, we think we’d have a real major impact because this is who these young people want to be like, anyway,” Selase stated.

As a former defensive back for the University of Georgia football team and a cast member of the TV drama “Power,” Hardwick is no stranger to the limelight. However, in a video, he expressed that his advocacy for anti-gun violence is crucial to him.

According to Hardwick, it’s time to take concrete steps to save lives by addressing both gun violence and substance misuse. “We’re not just focused on one issue, but rather trying to make a real impact and make a difference,” he emphasized.

Aniah Blanchard, a former high school softball player, was abducted and murdered in 2019, leaving behind her mother, Harris, to mourn her tragic loss.

According to experts, adolescents who carry a weapon tend to be more popular among their peers. The decision to carry a weapon among youth is often influenced by social pressure.

By empowering athletes to promote nonviolence, we can reinforce to the youth who idolize them that harmful behaviors such as bullying, fighting, and using weapons are not desirable. This approach can have a significant impact on encouraging positive behaviors amongst young people.

According to Selase, the key players in addressing the issue of gun violence are the top influencers, such as NBA and NFL players. These players come from the communities that are most affected by this problem, and therefore, they have the power to make a real impact. Selase believes that it is essential for them to speak out and take action against gun violence.

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